March 28, 2022, 5:14 PM
The screaming interruption came from the upper balconies during a performance of Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos.”
The Last Night of the Metropolitan Opera production of Ariadne in Naxos by Richard Strauss was tarnished by the rare interruptions of a heckler in the audience.
During the second act of the German opera, an aria was sung by soprano Brenda Rae, who played the role of Zerbinetta.
As Rae concluded her tune, a voice was heard shouting from the upper balconies, “You’ve got no technique!”, before the audience member “burst out.”
The shocking interjection was followed by horrified whispers in the auditorium. The Metropolitan Opera has a strict set of rules that cell phones must be turned off before the performance, and latecomers are not admitted; so this explosion was particularly shocking.
A Met spokesperson told Classic FM that “although opera singers are vocal athletes, they should not be subjected to the kind of heckling with which sports spectators get away with in stadiums.
“Shouting of rude language from the public that disrupts a performance – as was the case on the evening of March 17 at the Met – has no place in an opera.”
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still not on the fact that during my very first opera encounter, a nut yelled YOU HAVE NO TECHNIQUE from the balcony at someone who was clearly very good at their job as a soprano. it gave food game… AT THE OPERA
— Helen Holmes (@helenbholmes) March 18, 2022
The Metropolitan Opera also told Classic FM that “fortunately this was an isolated incident”.
“Most opera-goers are opera-goers who respect the extraordinary ability and talent of our artists.
“The Met has identified the rogue audience member, who promptly left the theater after his outburst, as he will not be permitted to attend future performances. There have been no other recent incidents of this nature.
Although heckling is not common in the legendary opera, audiences have been known to boo productions and sometimes even singers.
In 1998, Met audiences boo young avant-garde director Robert Wilson after the premiere of Wagner Lohengrin at the New York Opera. His production featured little to no contact between the performers, meaning the two opera lovers barely looked at each other throughout the performance, let alone touched.
In 2009, the staging of Puccini by the Swiss director Luc Bondy Tosca at the Met was also booed as audiences found the production too safe and traditional. While the opening night audience gave the singers involved in the performance a standing ovation, once director Bondy took the stage, the cheers turned into prolonged boos.
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Commentators of the recent incident have taken to social media to refer to the fact that horseplay was once commonplace at the opera house.
In the 17th century, audiences from low-income backgrounds were known to keep talking during opera performances, and even hurl insults at singers if the music did not appeal to them.
However, music scholars were quick to dismiss that comment as the reason for the heckling two weeks ago, suggesting there might be a good reason the tradition died out.