After reading the article posted several days ago (below, titled "On Booing," seen here Booing) I consulted a few others, but most notably the article from Opera Chic, a pretty good blog I found that mostly deals with opera reviews and related information. Her review of the same performance of "Tosca" that we commented on in class last week was quite similar to the New York Times article in that it detailed the lackluster reception by the audience, and noted the large amount of booing that ensued at the end of the performance. It can be viewed here killing-me-softly-with-a-knife . Opera Chic also describes how uninspiring James Levine was in his role as music director, and how many of the tempo choices were too slow or inappropriate in one way or another. Though his direction was faulty, the musicians were still just as talented, and played just as well as should be expected.
I was inspired to look into this particular subject of audience reception by our discussion last week about whether it is okay to show that a performance was disappointing by booing. I am of the opinion that the performance has to be pretty bad in order for someone to boo at the performers, and personally feel that it is disrespectful, especially when it is coming from musicians like ourselves, who know how good the musicians are that we are booing. If it was the directing that was bad, boo at that group of people, not the musicians (unless they too played poorly, but that's a whole other story...)
The fact is that the interpretation of the opera was not what people expected, so they booed at it. But really, that doesn't mean that the performance was lousy, or that the performers in the orchestra played any less profoundly - it simply means the audience wasn't ready for that change in interpretation and that is not the musician's fault, (in this case it was Luc Bondy's fault, as he staged this "new" version of an old favorite, if anyone should be booed it should be him). The musicians should be praised for a performance they played with exquisite quality, and the audience should be respectful enough to realize that and boo at the people who deserve it, not the ones who don't.