I have been having a wonderful time going to hear opera – this year at the Met, the thrill of an unforgettable Tristan and Isolde, a beautiful – and new to me – Thais by Massenet, and a deeply touching Eugene Onegin. During the Tchaikovsky I realized that the audience expectation and behavior is the complete opposite of what we are used to in the concert hall. At the end of virtually every aria, there was wild applause, which often had little to do with the actual action on stage and certainly no connection to the story line.
It is a real challenge for anything that is awaited with great anticipation to actually live up to the excitement. After the thrill of performing in the new Disney Hall, I can only say that for me, it has surpassed all my expectations. In the most exhilarating way, it inspires awe without forcing us to be reverent.
All of us love applause, and so we should – it means that the listener LIKES us! So we should welcome applause whenever it comes. And yet, we seem to have set up some very arcane rules as to when it is actually OK to applaud. I have been trying to find out exactly when certain listeners and performers decided that applause between movements would not be “allowed”, or at least would be frowned upon, but nobody seems to have been willing to admit that they were the culprit.