Several weeks ago, I attended the opera. It was my first opera in awhile. I saw The Marriage of Figaro in Philadelphia’s historic Academy of Music. Prior to the Opera, I went to a lecture on the story of this opera’s creation. Having seen the movie, Amadeus, I was confident that I knew all that there is to know about this work. I did not. I learned much and was excited to be seeing this production.
My seats cost $20 and were low cost due to the obstructed view seats that are common at this venue as it was once a concert hall only location. Since getting it’s Broadway makeover, it has many seats that are behind columns. My column was not a huge distraction and with some courtesy on the part of all attendees, there wasn’t going to be a problem. I brought my opera glasses…aka…tiny little binoculars…and turned my $20 seats into a significantly better deal. I could see all of the little facial expressions that actors have become known for thanks to the movie industry.
During the 3rd act, after the intermission, a man in the row immediately behind me decided that being silent was a choice that he didn’t have to live with. He proceeded to talk at full voice to his increasingly irritated date and when he was corrected by her, the girl next to me, and finally me…his response was to mock me in response. He then proceeded to play YouTube videos on his phone with no headset. After 10 minutes of this behavior, he and his date left. The whole incident left me bitter about how a person could exhibit this behavior in public.
Yesterday, I took my high school choir on their final trip to Broadway. We saw The Phantom of the Opera at an unusual Thursday Matinee. Our seating was upper mezzanine, but in the front row for the most part. A section of about one dozen front row seats were unoccupied at the start of the Overture. If you know this show, the overture includes the coming to life of a dead chandelier and a riveting orchestration as the stage is automatically transformed in time. It was at this moment that the theater staff attempted to seat a group of students late without first ascertaining the order that they should sit in their seats. The moment was stolen from me. This is one that I anticipated and for my first time attenders, I was extremely disappointed that they lost this experience. There is no late seating at the opera!!! Why is this tolerated at the Phantom of the Opera?
When the show ended, I was separated from my entire group as we made our way to the bus. I had my students board the bus that was double parked on 8th avenue and once again was told that it was my fault that they got separated. I later found out that the group that was late had a person that was irritated by the behavior of the students in my group. The person took issue with one of my teachers who took issue with the late arrival of the group. Later still, I found out that a person from my group yelled toward the stage an inappropriate remark. It makes it hard for me to write to the theater to take a position on their bad choice of seating those late arrivals and the poor execution as well.
I believe that we all have to take responsibility to teach those who “don’t know” what they “should know” and why. If they choose not to “learn” the skill necessary to appreciate the art, then they should not be around those who do know how to act. It all boils down to manners. There’s a reason for it and I’m not going to “let it go”.