Friday, December 15, 2006

A Nightmare at the Opera

This lovely comment by Simon Jenkins in today's Guardian describes the hullabaloo that has broken out in Milan after the tenor Roberto Alagna rushed off the stage in mid-performance. Apparently the spectators in the Gallery booed him for 'a rather laboured B flat'. That sounds like an audience with steel, who were looking for a return for their expensive tickets - 'if we pay that much, we expect every note to be sung perfectly and with expression'. Not like those of us who even (politely) applaud those for making an effort who have laboured with rather more than one B flat - like the whole octave range. It sounds a bit like the Glasgow Empire which used to be the death of comics. It must be interesting to attend the Scala.

Mr Alagna is suing the scala for not protecting him from the audience - what if they had thrown stones, he asks. Do many people attend the opera with stones in their pockets? Would people in the gallery, a packed standing area presumably, really wish to enter the opera house with eggs or tomatoes in their pockets? He also feels the rest of the audience should have protected him...

Simon Jenkins anticipates European Directives to result from this, on health and safety grounds. It makes you wonder how long it will take before performing artists can sue concert halls for stage fright.