Whispers from the classical music world

Rumour has it that Katherine Jenkins provided the vocal track for this delightful mimed performance of Der Hölle Rache from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.

The etiquette of ‘live cast’ opera

Last night, I saw a live cast of the Met’s stellar production of Siegfried at the Hackney Picturehouse. It was broadcast in HD, as “people’s diva” Renée Fleming, who hosted the show, enjoyed reminding us between acts – though I have to say, that grainy DVD set of the Met’s 90’s Ring is perfectly good enough for me.

The production was a triumph, even though some of Fabio Luisi’s musical decisions were a little odd. (He raced through the last few dozen bars at breakneck speed, robbing the final, throbbing harmonies of much of their dramatic clout.)

But what really fascinated me was how confused the audience were about how to deal with noisy neighbours and, especially, applause. Were we in the cinema? Or ought we to have been pretending to be in the opera house? Judging by the furtive glances round the auditorium, no one seemed quite sure to begin with. But after spending the best part of six hours with this discerning metropolitan crowd, I distilled what I guess must be the accepted norms of behaviour for these events. Read more