Category Archives: rants

Let us start the year with a rant: Venice tourist fees

BLOODY TOURISTS!

So Venice has started a fight to cull tourist numbers by way of making your pay a flat daily* (?) fee when entering the lagoon. I can sorta kinda understand where they are coming from (re: gazillions of tourists, mostly parked by Rialto-San Marco; these people are apparently their target). BUT:

these people usually stay at the lagoon hotels per se, so who you are segregating against? Me!

*Is the daily fee a once a day entry fee, or does it allow multiple daily entries? It would affect tourists who stay in the outer boroughs and may have reason to go back and forth during the day.

GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!

They want to divert people to lesser known destinations, like the islands.

Idea: make the vaporetti or whatever takes you there cheaper. I WANT to go to the islands, Lido, whatever – why would I want to see Rialto over and over? I want to take cooler panoramic pictures and I just bet drones are banned.

BRIDGE, WHAT BRIDGE?

But you have another issue: there are only so many bridges that link the many islands. Make more bridges? So many people use the Rialto Bridge because there is no other bloody bridge to get you to the other side for miles. I too was sick and tired to have to use that route again and again but that is the most direct one right now.

A MAZE OF WINDING ROADS

Alternatively, sign post the lesser known streets better, so tourists who are willing to take the scenic route do not have to fear getting lost and waste time chasing their tails. The only properly signed area is the most notorious one.

RUBBISH, I SAY

Apparently there is a lot of littering. I have to say I was not struck by Venice being particularly dirty. But if this is such a problem, install a hefty fine and enforce it.

FUN IN THE SUN ON THE CRUISE SHIP AND OTHER ANNOYANCES

Interesting debate on an older article, this time about tourism in Spain (another country railing against their current source of revenue):

Cruise ships, coaches, even RVs are ways of “doing” the popular or interesting bits of a particular location without really leaving very much behind to the benefit of the area you are visiting. Cruise passengers mainly want to “do” Venice – they do not particularly want to interact with any Venetians.

If, when visiting a place, you stay in a local hotel, eat in local restaurants and spend in local shops you are at least contributing to the local economy; increasing the prosperity of the places you are visiting. All the cruise ships do is add to congestion without contributing very much to the places they are visiting.

The answer is either to restrict the number of such short term visitors, or force them to pay more for their visits e.g. through greatly increased parking / berthing fees.

Here is one who wants to pay the fee, for the sake of the local marble:

I agree we were in Venice this spring and I felt very strongly that we should have been charged an entry fee. Also having your suitcase transported (rather than lugging it around yourself) should be an offence as well, I saw people with insanely large and heavy suitcases trying to pull them up the steps of these delicate marble old bridges it was infuriating.

Surprisingly, other cities seem to have come up with a solution:

They could have special luggage boats and small electric vehicles to transport them when there isn’t a canal handy. Split and Hvar have these wee electric vehicles to move things around in the city centre.

But one thing that we may be momentarily forgetting is the traditional disorganisation at administrative level and good ole corruption. I suspect that Venice is only making a profit (if it is) due to the said humongous number of tourists.

Eventually proposed tourists will probably take all this aboard and not go. If enough of them feel unwelcome then they may end up with not enough tourists. My very easy going nephew said that Venice was extremely unwelcoming, expensive and highly over rated.

I must be SUPER extremely easy going as I did not feel any of that (except that gelato should not exceed 2 Euros / 2 scoops). But the poster has a point: I was taken aback by this proposed fee and having been there twice I may think about other destinations in the future before I decide on a high fee period.

Riga, not my city but I stayed there, has trouble with the notorious stag/hen weekenders who come (from the UK notably) for cheap booze and screws then trash the place. All brought courtesy of low cost airlines.

All brought courtesy of the disparity of income and cultural attitudes between First World ex-Colonial Empires and the rest of the world. Local admin raw greed and spinelessness as well, of course.

Let us return to cruise ships for a moment, as other from the Adriatic region complain:

And the cruise ships. Don’t forget the damn ships. They’re ten thousand times worse than AirBnB could ever be.

Here in Dalmatia, they dump human and industrial waste with impunity, ruining the water and fouling the beaches. And the class of tourist they disgorge represents a net cost to the communities they disembark in.

Every boat belches out at least a few thousand shambling, shouting, penny-pinching, insensitive tourists who desecrate holy sites, erode ancient roads and buildings, and overwhelm basic utilities. They get drunk and smash up local businesses or start fights with locals. They jam up our underfunded emergency services, then skip out on the bill in time to catch their boat. Most leave without having spent more than a handful of euros on land.

And so it’s an economic disaster here. Study after study shows cruise ship tourism to be a massive net loss to the local economy. Locals are priced out of their communities by sky-high living costs during the high season. Availability and quality of public services drop precipitously as the public sector sags under the load. And there’s barely any assistance from our EU “partners”, who are nevertheless more than happy to privatize and rent our infrastructure back to us when it serves them.

Nice jab at the EU partners as well, which is common thing in ye olde (South) Eastern Europe. Not to say that the local partners are not happy to pawn off their country resources for their sole benefit, screw the local economy.

This is the same idiot who wanted to be taxed earlier:

I think travelling has become too cheap.

Still, the post gets a comeback:

Ah, for the days when aviation was a gentleman’s pursuit back before every Joe sweat sock could wedge himself behind a lunch tray and jet off to Raleigh-Durham.

Which is basically the crux of the problem: wealthy tourists = ok, poor ones = stay at home.

I know — I live in the center of Brussels… — how awful it is to be taken over by masses of tourists but I still think some kind of touristing can be mutually interesting. Life would be pretty boring staying in each one’s backyard.

Sensible view. The usual anger makes it sound like we should all stay at home, which, in a (first) world of disposable income and increasingly freer travel, sounds really odd. Then people complain of tribalism/racism/xenophobia etc. Surely there can be a middle way?

I left a while back, it’s unlivable in Amsterdam. You cannot do simple things on summer evenings, like getting to appointments on time; sitting down for a drink with friends; booking a restaurant. Even cycling your bike becomes a pain with tourists drunk and stupid on their rental bikes.

That is kind of interesting, as I feared for my life when trying to cross the street – not because of cars but because of cyclists in Amsterdam – and you know what a big drunk I am 😉 Nowhere else have I seen such aggressive cyclists, and that is saying something, re: London Olympic cyclists. But perhaps they are just fed up with tourists.

I also do not go to Oxford Circus unless I have to (Wigmore Hall visits, so that adds up to a few times a month). In London you do not have to meet friends in tourist central for drinks but maybe it is because London is so much bigger… I do remember having a nice dinner at a local Turkish restaurant in an anonymous neighbourhood of Amsterdam when I last visited.

I also had to move further afield from Central(ish) London – but due to the more traditional forms of gentrification. Maybe London has its particular challenges, with the centre deserted after being sold off as assets to foreign oligarchs who live elsewhere, so nobody is actually disturbed by tourists because nobody lives where they congregate.

I cannot say that I had a dreaded airbnb near to wherever I have lived in the past 11 years I have been a resident here (or there, as it where, at this very moment). Then again, thank you riots, North London may still be feared by tourists 😉 This could be the answer: organise a local riot in this or that neighbourhood and scare the potential intruders off.

HOW HAVE WE GOT HERE?

It occurs to me, though, that we should ask why have all cities with something to show for become such tourist magnets? Open up a paper or check out the adverts in the tube and you will see lots of adverts for this or that destination. One assumes that these adverts are paid for by the tourism boards in those cities/countries.

Here in ye olde (S)EE the reason every scenic area is turned into bandb paradise is BECAUSE there is no other economy to speak of. The country produces nothing, it lives on the money sent home by work migrants and local services. Can it be the same (minus migrant work for First World ex-Colonial Empires) for all these other fabulous destinations?

But, you know, blame the tourists. You entice them to come and then you complain that they have come. Kinda like with migrant work, innit?

the behemoth cruise ships that chug through the Grand Canal, emitting fumes and disgorging thousands of people into the crowded streets – on some days as many as 44,000. It was announced in November last year that the largest vessels would be diverted from the city centre, but the plan is yet to be officially approved by the national government. (from this article on the subject)

Those who don’t agree with us… write their own blog posts

Venice will vanish into the sea and Salzburg will slide into Salzach 😉 until then, enjoy another shot of the festival area, now from the other side.

After a 3 week honeymoon with like-minded thoughts and the work itself, the time has come to read other opinions on Poppea (yes, I know, the world has moved on by I have not. It’s Tito month and I’m still stuck in Rome one generation before that story).

For kicks I also listened to Karajan’s trainwreck in the meanwhile and came out with further thoughts: the chap singing Seneca survived best, mostly because his voice was the most suited to the role and because he either made the most effort to sound Monteverdian or he actually had an idea about what that enticed. A contralto Arnalta is usually not a good idea; neither is a tenor Valletto (same thing with the Enescu Festival Poppea; it’s a Cherubino character, leave it to women; never heard a CT in it but worse comes to worst I’d rather hear one than a tenor).

But back to 2018:

Jan Lauwers’s first opera production may be accounted a significant success: alive to theatre, its possibilities and impossibilities, its illusions and delusions. (from A Highly Successful Production of L’incoronazione di Poppea in Salzburg)

If a spinning marathon = alive to theatre then yes.

I heard a good few objections – nothing wrong with that in itself, of course – which, sadly and revealingly, seemed to boil down to that perennial bugbear of ‘too much going on’. By definition, ‘too much’ of something will be a bad thing – although sometimes, perhaps, bad things are required. (from same as above)

When it comes to entertainment too much of boring and illogical isn’t something I want. Bad things can be interesting, not the case here.

Few of the characters in L’incoronazione di Poppea, even Seneca, a somewhat compromised and therefore all the more credible exception, evince scruples in that or any other respect. Sometimes we, sometimes they too, need to ask why, or at least seem to need to do so. It does not, then, seem entirely unreasonable, nor out of keeping with the spirit of this extraordinary work, to attempt something similar. (from same as above)

I’m in agreement with this (though it’s wooly written, so I cleared it up for the reader). Yet I’m not interested in any production telling me why. That’s for each of us to draw from our own experiences with “horrible people”. I’m interested in a production not making things busy for the hell of it. The author seems to imply that simply busy = making us think. On the contrary.

I’m adding a nighttime picture of Salzburg just to make you think (about the smoothness of my new camera)

It is, at any rate, likely to prove more enlightening than simply complaining that ‘too much is going on’. ‘Have you ever seen a Frank Castorf production?’ I was tempted to ask. (from same as above)

What’s that got to do with anything? I have seen this production and it messed with my head for no discernable reason. (Visual) art should speak for itself, not need booklets explaining it1. (Incidentally that Castorf production looks a lot more coherent but I didn’t see it so I won’t be commenting)

The next paragraph is bad writing on the subject of whether or not there is any parallel between Busenello’s libretto and Shakespeare’s Macbeth, psychology (or lack thereof) and whether whatever Accademia deli Incogniti stood for had any bearing on the apparently amoral tone of the libretto. None of it has anything to do with this production so I’ll skip it.

Like staging itself, sometimes they [the dancers] mirror the action, but more often they offer related, alternative paths: a ‘why’, a ‘what if…’, (from same as above)

They do, I guess, but always as a not particularly original or coherent afterthought. First draft?

Throughout history, what has been more pornographic, in any number of senses, than the desire not only to watch but also to write such ‘stories’? Is that not part of what Poppea is? All the while, even whilst we are caught up in its detail, in enjoyment thereof, we, like the selected dancer-in-rotation as focal wheel of fate (Fortuna), know how things will turn out – even if we have forgotten. (from same as above)

Yes to the first part – and I certainly would’ve traded the incessant spinning for more of the reality TV backstage stuff being projected – but can we for once live in the now instead of always thinking about how things turn out? Isn’t that why we indulge in entertainment?

If you’ve ever wondered what’s behind that cliff I kept yapping about.


  1. I’m aware that’s usually what is going on in contemporary art museumes these days but I don’t consider it a good thing. 

Don’t mess with Madama Butterfly, you uncultured fools

From the comment section of Guardian’s fluff piece of Glyndebourne boost:

Retroactively applying current moral sensibilities to older artistic works is naively dismissing cultural context, in the same way that dubbing something as ‘problematic’ is an intellectual cop-out, actually shutting down avenues for meaningful conversation and reverting to moral sanctimony that is less about actual progressiveness and more about moralistic posturing. (says alives)

Hm. Maybe it’s early(ish) morning after a night shift and I can’t think straight (has happened before) but I don’t quite see it that way. We always apply modern sensibilities to older artistic works, whether we give them passes or not. If we didn’t I guess we’d still be doing the same thing (cave paintings?) and study the same things in school like they did in Moses’ time.

Just because I think this is a dumb story that has yet another damsel in mortal distress in the title role to go with the schmalzy sentiments/music does not mean I don’t get cultural context (ie: that’s mid 19th century to early 20th for ya; but, dehggi, Puccini is actually criticising Pinkerton/colonialists! Fair enough but I think it’s fair to say women are sick and tired of being the designated object of pity in yet another opera).

Not calling a lot of things problematic has lead to said things being swept under the rug and considered the way of the world for aeons (ie, I didn’t know there was a problem! You should’ve said so!) rather than encourage discussion. Saying something is morally abhorent does not automatically lead to moralistic posturing – it actually is opening dialogue on a tough subject. Talk about getting into a hissy fit over other people’s opinions…

I should mention that the Guardian opera section’s comments are usually frequented either by folks who want all subsidy removed from opera posthaste or dinosaurs who like to reminisce about how it was at Covent Garden before Daylight Savings Time was introduced. This fluff piece has given a good chunk an opportunity to bash #metoo.

personal hobby horse: someone in the comments worries that this opera might end up shelved for its problematic nature and how that would not be fair. Well, tell that to all the 17th and 18th century Baroque works that are still lesser known that this one – and for no better reason than subsequent time periods found them old fashioned and not in line with their moral sensibilities… Poppea vs Butterfly, anyone?

Opera Twitter meets The Onion

As you all know, I have so far decided to stay away from Twitter, mostly on account of already spending enough time online (I’m falling by the wayside, I know, but -). Based on the accounts below, I don’t know that I dare put up with the mental anguish and aesthetic dilemas at stake:

Twitter discombobulated when bachtrack review does not praise everyone involved

(it’s bachtrack, but they do occasionally give 3 stars and less, don’t they? This describes a performance of Handel’s (virtue-praising borefest) Theodora)

We’re talking about students and young professionals so I’ll be wary about bandying names.

Heavy forshadowing… but starting with the good:

Here instead, in a nod to last weekend’s Glyndebourne Opera Cup and as a means of cutting to the chase, is my roll of honour.

First prize: Polly Leech (mezzo- soprano) a complete artist whose command of style, score, vocal technique and stagecraft was staggering. Her rendition of Irene’s “Bane of virtue” was the first moment at which a singer’s performance met the measure of the work.

[…]

Honourable mentions go to soprano Charlotte Bowden, tenor Patrick Kilbride and bass Jolyon Loy.

(Bane of virtue is a really badass title – \m/ at ya, DJ Handel)

So far so polite and appreciative. Now onto the scandalous part:

There were near-misses for a couple of countertenors too, but one shrieked at the top and faded at the bottom while the other, though more technically secure, buried his head so deeply in his score that poor old Didymus remained glued the page.

😀 Sorry, I don’t have the Twitter truth quotes, as this was pointed out to me by Baroque Bird, who likes countertenors a lot, so I have no reason to think her mezzo-biased or malicious. We had a convo over whether it was weird or not to lay it into ’em (whoever ’em happen to be). Well, you know me 😉 You’re on stage, wear your Gorgon shield.

Twitter magic wand fight between composer, critics, singers etc. over mild criticism

These are comments on the ROH production of Turnage’s opera for children, Coraline, apparently doomed to be his last (opera):

The Observer’s Fiona Maddocks felt it was overlong, but praised the cast and staging, writing. “With some text trims and … judicious use of surtitles, it could triumph.”

And

The Guardian’s Tim Ashley, in a four-star review, noted that the children in the audience enjoyed it but added: “Turnage has long divided opinion, and not everyone, I suspect, will like it.”

Like, OMG, no platform, the two of you!

Worst of all, the bad boy of English classical music criticism:

Indeed, the Telegraph’s opera critic Rupert Christiansen did not pull his punches. “Turnage’s score is grey, sluggish and lacking in either charm or spookiness,” ran his review.

That’s almost as bad as they cuss up in Tottenham, fam. What what!

Hugh Canning, the Sunday Times’s opera writer – although this was not a production he was reviewing himself in a formal capacity – added in a tweet since deleted that he thought that Christiansen’s comments were “spot on”.

He hastens to add, he was not reviewing it himself. But he did post a thumbs up. What’s the (first) world coming to? Wait, he deleted it 😀 world crisis (almost) averted – you didn’t think this stopped here, did you?

The following day, ahead of his opera’s final performance of this current run, Turnage, who in 2015 was awarded the CBE for services to music, wrote a tweet to Canning and Christiansen which said: “Don’t worry Hugh. There will be no further operas by me that you will ever have to sit through again. I’m done with the genre. Going to leave it [sic] my more talented contemporaries and younger colleagues.”

I’m taking my CBE and I’m going home! You critics can write your own operas now! See if I care.

Canning replied: “I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve been a big fan of your earlier pieces. Can I suggest a few cuts in Act 1 & a sprinkling of fairy-dust on the orchestration?”

lolz. It’s but a step from thumbs up, big dawg to a sprinkling of fairy dust. We all flirt with danger on occasion but soon return to the rivers and the lakes that we’re used to. Or to the bowl of potpurri.

The critic’s response was heavily criticised by opera singers including British tenor Paul Curievici, who was not involved with the production. He wrote: “The shared-space-ness of Twitter is tricky, and this is one incident among several in which the right tone has seemed hard to land on … Opera twitter prompting one of our most garlanded composers into abandoning the art form does not make me feel good about opera twitter.”

double lolz. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

The tenor Ben Johnson tweeted: “Where does a critic get off directly (publicly) writing to a composer of this standing in such a way?”

Dunno, dude, I thought you had a really funny sense of humour. A composer of this standing – good thing it’s still ok to say what you have to say about lesser known composers.

All I can say is, a friend of a friend who’s into Neil Gaiman (as well as opera) went and enjoyed it.

Ok, there’s something else I wanted to say:

No free advertisement for opera, please

I noticed that Prina’s Se l’inganno from the Aix production is currently unavailable on YT.

Well! I know you expose a video when you air it on yout blog – given how much time has elapsed since I posted it I guess I wasn’t the worst offender, though obviously I didn’t help – but I honestly don’t get this policing. I shared it years after the production happened, an official DVD doesn’t seem to have surfaced and most people who read this blog and have access to last year’s Ariodante tour have purchased tickets to at least one show (as shown by the conversations had on the blog).

So what is your problem, copyright enforcer? Enforcement will argue this video wasn’t the thing that broke the camel’s back, that channel did worse deeds (I shudder to think what else they might have shared!) and the video went down along with everything else.

But, really, why exactly is it a crime to share a video of an (otherwise unavailable) work and performers who might get fans out of this free advertising? I’m not going to go on a long rant on this subject because many others have done it before. It’s 2018, you get exposure but you don’t want it. You want to control said exposure confident that you know better how to get to the people who will take the bait. You clearly don’t.

Productions even sinks can’t save

Operaramblings has recently at the time of my rant hit on a subject that still (STILL) gets my goat. Naturally I ran to my 6 many months old ranty draft and stroked it a few times. Then I thought I should vent my anger (for it makes me foamy (oh, so foamy…)).

Eagerly awaited by yours truly, the 2011/2012 Munich I Capuleti e i Montecchi turned out to be a spectacularly inept production1. There are only two good things about it: Bellini’s music and Romeo. The rest is like a wisdom tooth ache: dull, painful and the mere thought of it almost as uncomfortable as the thing itself. Shame on you, Bayerische Staatstoper!

To those few who don’t know, in 2012 this production had VK as Romeo, Anna Netrebko as Giulietta and some guys in the other roles, plus Maestro Yves Abel running the shoddy ship into every rock on the way. To add insult to injury, midway through the run AN decided she’d had enough of her sink and unceremoniously boarded the nearest lifeboat. Bayerische shipped the 2011 Giulietta (Nakamura) back and refunded 1/2 of the (ridiculously high) ticket price to the angry Netrebkites.

Back in 2012 I watched the livestream (on mum’s ancient desktop) and then I re-watched it on youtube on a brand new laptop, which mum thoughtfully bought the day after. I read others’ comments on it, some of which made for very good reading though they appeared to be about something else than what I had seen. I didn’t make an effort to snap it before the cerbers at Bayerische mauled it off youtube. I eventually acquired it in hopes that time brings perspective. I’ve watched it a couple more times and my disappointment has turned to anger. There are just too many things that irk me:

Giulietta – NO. NO. NO. NO. Also: no.
fussy/inept costumes – epitome of fashion hype: unflattering and completely impractical
harsh lighting that made them all look like zombies – it’s set in a morgue, then
all-over-the-shop choir – perhaps coached by some fashion hanger-on
incomprehensible staging:

  • overly precious ending – just look behind you already, Romeo!
  • saddlesobviously!
  • sink – the sink is to regie what stairs are to trad productions = a bold statement of lack of imagination; this is a
  • wedding party on bleachers – fashion shoot on stairs, duh
  • reflective and uneven walls – the stage designer and the light designer meet after a successful double lobotomy

To be fair to the end, VK too seemed a day or two past the sell-by date. Major meh. It’s beyond annoying that posterity will be left with this video version of her Romeo, when she’s done such an exceptional job with this role over the years. At the time I was very upset that I couldn’t see it live but in the very long run it looks like I saved myself further frustration not to mention money and fuss.


  1. I don’t truly like any Capuleti production I’ve seen so far. Very frustrating. 

Money notes rant

Someone mischievously suggested that what was needed was extra time, and then a penalty shootout, with the singers going for the highest notes in their particular vocal range.

sigh Do you really want to judge basses and contraltos by the same tokens you do sopranos and (counter)tenors? I mean in the event you actually remember there are other fachs out there…

Yet I sort of like the idea of penalty shootout, though I’m not sure it doesn’t turn the whole thing into a gimmick. But my idea of said shootout would be “show me your best trick” and would be up to each contestant to wow us with something they do very well but is quite different from what they did so far. Maybe a recit? Though I guess that’s not very good TV. Either way, just not a ping fest, though if sopranos and (counter)tenors think that’s the best they can offer then fair enough.

However: glad to see there was a mezzo winner in Cardiff this year! I actually don’t think I knew of her.

Know the one about Wagner and the wrong tax code?

Much like the mysterious knight, I usually try to keep my everyday life a mystery 😉 but Wagner uncharacteristically came to the rescue this time and I can file this moaning session under “musically related” (if tenuously so). If you want to skip it I’ll leave you with the porcelain swan sleigh. Click on it for a version of the Lohengrin act I prelude conducted by a chap whose surname translates to fisherman. turn loose the swans

The flipside of ecstatic opera reporting

I noticed my opera stories tend to sound very chipper. It’s not always 100% omg heaven, I just don’t think I need to pepper everything with moans. It’s better to save them for a future ranty post 😉

Last time I was at Wigmore Hall I was told off when I attempted to take a picture of… the ceiling air vent (copyrighted, apparently). Generally, though, Wigmore Hall ushers are self effacing. For the record I’ve taken pictures of the WH ceiling air vent before without any interference.

THE USHERS

Let’s start with a positive one:

The best ushering experience (so far)…

was at Den Norsk Opera in Oslo. Such laid back, unhindering yet helpful people! I might’ve been just lucky but everybody was beyond pleasant on my super short Norwegian sojourn.

The biggest Cerbers…

the ladies at Bayerische Staatsoper’s Amphitheatre cloak room. They demanded everything be handed in before entering the hall. Once in I realised I didn’t have anything left on me, no sweets, no money, no cards. But I told myself they would guard it all with their lives.

The most pointless zeal…

at Glyndebourne in 2013. I wrote about this one before.

The friendliest fuss to getting backstage…

at the Barbican after the 2014 Alcina with JDD, Coote, Rice et all. I haddn’t intended to go but upon exiting by the backstage door I thought I’d try my luck. Long queue of people who looked too smartly dressed. My turn comes:

backstage lady with clipboard (brightly): are you on the list?
dehggi: no…
BLWC (thinks for a moment): are you friends with anyone from the cast?
dehggi: …no.
BLWC (keeps looking at me hopefully):
dehggi: nevermind.

You may wonder why I didn’t try to wiggle my way in, but I really dislike formal situations and this seemed way too fussy for what would’ve amounted to a simple “great show tonight, thank you! Any chance of you doing this staged?”

THE AUDIENCE

The most consumptive audience…

was at the St Matthew Passion at the Barbican last April, followed closely by the early January Benjamin Appl recital at Wigmore Hall. Caughing and sputtering during any break. Lots of supportive caughing happened as well during the last act of Traviata at ROH in 2014.

The most sociable audience…

obsessive texting and chit-chatting at the back of the venue during Leo Nucci’s recital at Cadogan Hall.

The most obnoxious picture session taking during a show…

happened during La forza del destino (Harteros, Kaufmann et all) at Bayerishe Staatsoper. The parterre was alight with flashes.

The biggest fangirling…

also at the above mentioned show: much swooing after every Alvaro JK aria culminated with fans lining up in the front row so they could all have a giant selfie with JK during the upteenth curtain call.

The biggest cat-fight…

took place during Le nozze di Figaro at ROH in 2014 over “leaning”. It started with a seatmate tapping the kids in the front Amphi row on the shoulder with a programme then it spread like wildfire with similar tappings and a crossfire of snide remarks.

The most delirious thumping…

I experienced was during La donna del lago (JDD + JDF) at ROH in 2013. The Amphi shook with delight every time one of them opened their mouth. It greatly disturbed my naps 😛 but it leads us into:

The deepest sleeper…

I spotted him in the second row at the Barbican at L’Orfeo in 2013. He was as old as the hall at the very least and his head had slumped between his shoulders about 15min in and stayed there until intermission. I was afraid he had died but his wife elbowed him awake when the lights went up.

The BO champion…

sat next to me at Guillaume Tell at ROH. There’s no two ways about it: dude stank. I had another one who surprised me with his malodorous ways at the same Barbican L’Orfeo mentioned above, but at least his came in waves. There was also the wind breaking lady at Barbican’s L’incoronazione di Poppea in 2014.

2 days of silly Christmas (random rant roll)

some people don’t like opera as much as operatic singing

As I said on other occasions, my current opera knowledge pertains to the past 15-20 years. Every once in a while I make time to get further acquainted with the past in order to enrich my understanding of the art. Sometimes the best part is the risible fussiness, spice of the comment section.

The other day (by which I mean last July) I was reading what I thought was a very intelligent and relaxed interview with the great Romanian lyric soprano Virginia Zeani. Later I scrolled down to the comments to find a longwinded, passive-aggressive hissy fit from someone who accused the interviewer of “gross lack of respect” for Zeani because he didn’t blindly worship every note that has ever come out of her mouth (surprising reaction considering the interview was a very down to earth conversation with Zeani; all I can suppose is the poster didn’t like to hear an old school diva talk like a very together and often humorous human being).

I’ve read a lot of bollocks online from opera fans but this one took a certain cake. It illustrates a way of writing about opera that has always irked me. Terms such a assoluta, perfection, magnificent, stratospheric, voice of the century are thrown about with wild abandon and make up the heart and soul of such posts.

they were sure milking it, eh?

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s wonderful to feel you have witnessed a special moment; there’s nothing quite like when you get exactly what the singer expressed through singing, to the point where an interview on the subject is superfluous. It’s even great reading about others’ similar experiences, when the writing is so vivid it’s almost as if you feel the same thing they did.

What I am objecting to is posts/comments that consist of little beyond continous fawning over human beings as if they never burp or fart. You’re not talking about something threedimensional anymore; you’re not telling me anything, either about the interpretation or about what it made you feel. It’s a diarrhea of superlatives.

The amusing part of the comment came when the poster chided the interviewer for sloppiness in regards to the exact number of times Zeani had sung Violetta – this in the context where Zeani herself said she wasn’t sure! Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.

3 different albums or re-packaged for different tastes?

I admit I like a bit of cheap drama, so 9 times out of 10 (and sometimes 10 out of 10) I venture in the comment section. I’ve never believed that comments should be disallowed on youtube or anywhere else. Moderation at the discretion of the poster is ok. Anyway, I was re-listening to Choir Accentus’ (and all) beautiful rendition of Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor reccommended by Rob and checked to see what others thought.

Well, a random conversation sparked up on the subject of clapping after a Mass, especially if a Mass is sung in church, such as was the case here. I tells ya, some people have a talent for zero-ing in on the important stuff. My take is it’s not religious worship, it’s a concert, so clap away. But what do I know, I got shushed whilst visiting a cathedral just the other day. If people want perfect quiet they can pray at home not in a public place. The rest of us are alive. Also, god does not actually reside in “the house of god”.