Wild audience

Antonio Celaya e-mailed, quite wonderfully, from Oakland, California, about his experience with a wide-awake opera audience. With his permission, I’ll share what he wrote. Thanks, Antonio!

Taruskin’s description of baroque opera in Italy had much in common with a performance I attended recently.  In fact, after the performance I wrote to friends and compared my experience to what opera must have been like in Venice during carnavale. 


I attended the opening night of SF Opera’s production of Ligeti’s “Le Grand Macabre.”  It was the night before Halloween.  Half the audience was in costume.  There was a cross dressing couple costumed as Pinkerton and Butterfly.  Death sat behind my wife and me.  One fellow in combat fatigues had a plastic automatic weapon with an enormous penis sticking out of the barrel.


The audience roared with every car horn tocatta.  The audience cheered references to the “Patriot Act.”  I waited more than 25 years to hear that opera live, and it was worth the wait to get that bang of an introduction.

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