Swan Lake

I have never understood the desire by those attending a live performance to consume wrapped sweets. Why pay good money to watch performers and then distract them from doing their best?

Last weekend I attended the performance of Swan Lake, danced by the Imperial Russian Ballet, with some trepidation. Last time I went to this ballet a woman in the front row destroyed the magic by rustling her way through, what must have been a whole packet of sweets, in some of the more beautiful scenes. Having seen the headlines about the distractions endured by opera lovers on the first night of The Magic Flute, I wondered if I was in for another such evening.

The performance started with the usual chorus of wrapper rustling, coughing, sneezing and things being dropped. However it was not long before silence descended. The performance was charming and elegant and the sets beautiful and simple, the costumes a delight. By the time the swans arrived on stage even my neighbour, who had spent the first part of ballet sneezing, fixing her hair, delving into her pockets, checking her cell phone, consuming water from the ubiquitous water bottle, stretching and yawning, subsided and the ballet company had successfully subdued both the loud and the restless.

Perhaps this is the greatest of tributes in our modern restless age? Or have I simply become, in my old age, such a curmudgeon that I should stick to borrowing the Swan Lake CDs and DVDs from the library to enjoy in the peace and quiet of my own home? Perhaps I should check out the books on etiquette to see if it’s now acceptable behaviour to eat lollies at the ballet?

5 thoughts on “Swan Lake

  1. Mojo-Jojo 20 October 2009 / 1:44 pm

    At The Magic Flute we also suffered from plastic bag-rustlers (why the need to constantly eat? They’re not going to starve to death in the course of one performance!) as well as being surrounded by the lights of (thankfully silent) cellphone screens, as those who equally couldn’t live without texting indulged their addiction.

    If grumping about such ill-mannered behaviour makes me a curmudgeon too, so be it. I stand proud in my grumpy curmudgeon-ness. 🙂

  2. Michael A 21 October 2009 / 5:25 pm

    Even worse, at concerts at Westpac, people wander in and out through the performance getting more beer and food…who would pay those ticket prices and miss 15 minutes of the performance to get provisions? And don’t start me on the $#@!%^ water bottles!

  3. Rachael 22 October 2009 / 5:58 pm

    I had to turn around and ask a mildly deaf audience member to turn off his beeping watch at a Christchurch Symphony concert once. He was completely oblivious to it, and rather embarrassed.

  4. Michael A 23 October 2009 / 8:22 am

    In Jonathan Franzen’s 2003 book of essays “How to be alone” he writes extremely well about the issue of privacy – not from a “big brother knows all about me” perspective (he decides he doesn’t really care about that too much) but from the actions of others invading his private space e.g. cellphone talkers etc. A very good read.

  5. Marion 27 October 2009 / 1:07 pm

    It’s a world wide phenomenon – we were in the church of Montserrat near Barcelona for a mass on a very special day of pilgrimage for Catalans. There was very intense music and prayer and all the while four middle aged women in the row in front of us yakked and pointed and commented (all in Catalan so I have no idea what they were saying – look at that cute priest? ooh look at that hairdo?)until I said that I would like them to shut up! Dicey but effective – after a moment of muttering they did!

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