At most opening nights, the audience response is cautious. They haven’t yet read a review, so they don’t know if the performance is good or not. That’s right; many don’t trust what they think, or how they react to a performance and wait to be told if what they saw and heard was good.
But last night some of the audience was on their feet fairly quickly. This is pretty rare for the Opera San Jose crowd. At Symphony Silicon Valley we tend to get standing Os as long as we start and end together, but opera is less generous with the O-thing. (I prefer it that way; I often want to yell at an audience and say “Save that O for a worthy moment!”)
I always wonder what the audience is standing for, as it could be a variety of things. Of course standing for an excellent performance is a good thing. Other times I believe they stand not necessarily for the actual performance, but for what that performance represents. In our case it might be the “Good for you — you finally did some Wagner and this is a big step.” Or it could be for the composer. (I feel like standing after hearing certain works, Beethoven’s 9th, for instance, because the work is so incredible. Even a bad performance can manage to get to me.) I think some audiences even give “Walking Os” … in other words, they are standing, but mostly so they can hurry to their cars because they are tired after a long sit. But Flying Dutchman is a short opera compared to most. So I do wonder what caused the standing O last night. Maybe lots of Wagner lovers came? Or maybe it truly was an outstanding performance aside from some idiot of an oboe player who blooped a note. (Sigh.)
Which brings me to one other thing (and then I must get ready for our matinee): while this is the shortest opera of this year I believe, it feels like the longest. Go figure. There is so much playing that by the last page my hands feel as if they are about to rebel and say “No More!” When I get home I have to have a Tylenol PM moment. Poor achy hands.
Well, look at that … I turned this into something about me after all. Isn’t that a shocker?