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Recorded music and the audience

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One difficulty with recorded music at ballet performances is that audiences have become used to not shutting up when recordings are played.

This will only get worse. While there are plenty of handy dead horses to beat regarding why audiences are rude, boorish or just plain stupid, it would be appropriate for the management of the house to announce something along the lines of "Please allow you neighbors to listen to the overture...."

It happens (at least here in Motown) much less often when there is an orchestra in the pit--maybe people think that it is part of what they paid for, so they tend to keep quiet.

But the beginning of an overture, with the curtain still closed and nothing else happening just is not enough of an event in today's world to make people realize that it is time to stop talking.

Especially since most of the audience don't know what the overture to "Marriage of Figaro", "Swan Lake" or anything sounds like.

So perhaps if not an announcement then something to let people know that the show has started.

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Ed, do I detect a subtext here? Perhaps you attended a performance recently that was marred by this boorish behavior?

Life in general is marred more and more often by people who pay little attention to the clues around them, or just don't care.

In the former case, adding more clues might help. As GWTW notes, dimming the lights is the traditional clue. I suppose it could help to make an overt announcement; certainly, theaters are finding many creative ways to get people to listen to their cell phone/pager/candy wrapper message. However, I would be afraid that a "shut up and listen" message would simply annoy you and me withou having the desired effect on the miscreants.

As for the ones who don't care, one can try "shh" and a glare, but that seldom works these days. Boors generally have no shame.

I don't think more live music is necessarily the answer, although I'm in favor of that on other counts. Rude, self-centered behavior is increasingly the standard in all walks of life, and judging from what I see entering (and, unfortunately, leaving -- one teacher can have only so much effect) my classroom, it's not going to get better anytime soon.

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I generally have no problem "shushing" people who talk, etc, although I usually don't have to. My wife, who is the soul of forbearce on most things has no patience with those who transgress in this way. And she is very effective--a glare that lowers the median temperature by about ten degrees, followed by a laser like "sshhh". If that doesn't work, there is the most simple and direct approach: "Will you please keep quiet?!"

But neither of us is particularly comfortable with shutting people up when recorded music is being played. When there is an orchestra in the pit playing one should be quiet out of respect for the musicians if not the rest of the audience. Most importantly, of course, is that music being played by these musicians at this time and place will never be heard in the same way again. And who knows, it may well be the most sublime rendition of (for example) the "Fidelio" overture that one has ever heard. This is not the case, obviously, with recorded music. I can listen in greater comfort and with better sound to the same music at home, and pick which recording I would like to hear.

Here in the Motor City, by the way, I think that people hear with their eyes as well as thier ears, since dimming the house lights is taken as a signal to speak more loudly to make sure one is heard.

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I can't say that I've noticed any difference in these parts in audience chatter when the music is not live -- generally the lights going down tips people off and they hush up.

When they don't hush, I will deploy a glare if the chatter is persistent, but it has to be pretty bad. Often as not people will take any indicator of unhappiness on your part as a signal to raise the volume, as Treefrog notes.

Live music is ALWAYS better. But today's economics don't always allow it, unfortunately.

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Stupid people make me very angry. I was in NYC last weekend and attended a Broadway performance, and the audience's behavior was absolutely atrocious. Not shutting up wasn't even the worst of it. They were taking pictures throughout the entire thing. Someone's cell phone even went off during the second act. By the end, I was so sick of shushing people and hissing "Stop that! Are you crazy?!" and so angry at their blatant rudeness that it took me about twenty minutes to unclench my teeth. Ooooh, I feel my blood pressure elevating just thinking about it again.

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