Monday, November 17, 2014

Tattling: SF Opera Boheme

Why I fled my dress circle seat, paid for by me, at intermission:
  • To the lady to my immediate left: I know that the seats are tiny and there's no room, but please try not to elbow your neighbors every ten minutes or so. I know that I was not slopping over into your space. Please keep your elbow out of mine.
  • To the ladies behind me: if you need to chat after the music starts, I can recommend any number of fine recordings of La Boheme for you to chat the privacy of your living rooms.
I fled to orchestra standing room, and a friend very kindly offered me his unfilled companion seat, but Boheme is not that long, and yes, I would have stood rather than deal with more audience misbehavior.

I have had different people to my left throughout the season, and this is the first trouble I have had with that spot, but I'm pretty sure the ladies behind me were there at a different opera, also chatting away. They did not respond to being shushed, either. Next time, perhaps I will inform an usher, or leave an anonymous note, or something. I admit that I should have politely said something to the woman on my left about her elbow.

Not exactly an aside: the seating at the opera house is awful in every section. In the balcony and dress circle, the seats are tiny and the leg room absurd. In the orchestra, the seats are about an inch from the ground and vary in size. San Francisco Ballet told Janos Gereben a while back that they were fund-raising to replace the seating, and I cannot wait, though if the number of seats is to be preserved, I don't know how they can improve things other than by raising the seat height in the orchestra.


serenejournal said...

One of the reasons I have stopped going to the theater, movies, etc. is exactly this: I am tired of feeling like my choices are either to spend my evening policing others' terrible theater-going behavior or to put up with it.

Lisa Hirsch said...

It is really a drag. Live opera is so different from opera on record that I'm happy to take the risk. This sort of thing is comparatively rare at SF Opera except during Russian operas, when, so help me, every chatty Russian in San Francisco shows up to torture the rest of the audience.

I have called the ushers on audience misbehavior in the past, at SFS where a kid sitting behind me was restless or crinkling paper or something in the first half of the program. On the second half, she was perfectly behaved.

Thinking ahead a bit to the June season - I will be in my subscription seat for only ONE of the three operas, Nozze di Figaro, and I will chat with the chatty pair behind if I need to. I swapped my Troyens tickets for a different day, and I expect to be reviewing La Ciocciara, so I'll be in the orchestra, where the audience is pretty polite.

John Marcher said...

I was at the Sunday matinee for Cenerentola yesterday, my least favorite time slot to attend SFO because of the audience. We sat in row V center orchestra. Chatty kid and his equally chatty parent behind us. Elderly woman in front of me unwrapping something after arriving 5 minutes late during Act 2, and the elderly woman seated next to me smacking on her lozenge. Oy.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I had a Sunday afternoon sub in the balcony for a while, and my seat-neighbors were a man in his 30s and his two kids, who were maybe 7 and 9 at the time. The kids were enthralled the entire time and perfectly behaved.

It's so much of a crapshoot. My subscriptions in the mid-90s was Friday nights, and the audience was totally dead, I assume exhausted from work. We eventually switched to Sundays when my co-subscriber started working on the Peninsula and I started working in Pleasanton. The Sunday audience is a lot livelier, unfortunately not always in great ways.

kalimac said...

I've occasionally turned around and glared at talkers until they stopped; or written and handed them a note saying, "Please don't talk during the music."

Dr.B said...

Is it my imagination or did the orchestra seats used to be more comfortable?

Lisa Hirsch said...

I have only sat in those seats post-renovation....