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Subject: Re: Pinkerton
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Wed, 1 Feb 2017 23:57:33 -0500

text/plain (49 lines)

Les Metnick wrote:

"I always liked the very quiet humming chorus and slowly descending curtain that ended the 
second act to be followed by an intermission."

That would indeed be nice, but in my experience, without exception, the ending of the act is 
spoiled by premature applause that begins the second the curtain starts to fall.

I know it makes for a long act, and I certainly sympathize with those for whom physical 
issues make such a long act problematic.  But I do find the continuous act more satisfying, 
and watching the whole vigil from start to finish, without a break, gives the illusion that we 
are experiencing it along with Butterfly.  Puccini's first instincts were correct.  Although, if 
the premature applause by morons could be squelched and the act permitted end in silence, 
I would be happy with the three-act version.

I had a funny experience at the end of Act 2 at a dress rehearsal of Butterfly at Dallas 
Opera in 1981.  The rehearsal was open to Opera Guild members who were permitted to sit 
in the balcony.  (I was sitting downstairs with my date because I used to work for the 
company and knew people.)  Anyway, at the end of Act 2, when the curtain started to 
descend, the people in the balcony started to applaud, completely drowning out the music.  
Maestro Rescigno turned around, still conducting, and shouted at them to be quiet but they 
were banging their hands together so loudly they didn't even hear him.  When the music 
ended, Rescigno was livid and he turned around and shouted at the balcony until there was 
silence.  He then proceeded to rip them a new one (collectively speaking), telling them that 
they were invited guests at a working rehearsal and if they made one more sound he would 
have the balcony cleared.  He also told them that it was "philistines" like them (his word) 
who ruined the end of Act 2 at performances by clapping prematurely and drowning out the 
music.  He then threw down his baton and stormed out of the orchestra pit.  Needless to 
say, there was dead silence in the balcony during Act 3, not even a cough. 

The Wrath of Rescigno did not erupt often, but when it did, it was volcanic.  Usually, when 
he was angry, he got quiet and smiled a very nasty smile - more a rictus grin - while he 
chastised the offender(s).  (You never wanted to be on the receiving end of The Smile.)  But 
occasionally, there were explosions, and they could be cataclysmic. 


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