New Principal Guest Conductor
5th Performance of Die Zauberflöte

Where Angels Fear to Tread

A fortnight ago I was reading E.M. Forster's Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) and laughed quite heartily at the following scene in Chapter 6 at a performance of Lucia:

    Harriet, meanwhile, had been coughing ominously at the drop-scene, which presently rose on the grounds of Ravenswood, and the chorus of Scotch retainers burst into cry.  The audience accompanied with tappings and drummings, swaying in the melody like corn in the wind.  Harriet, though she did not care for music, knew how to listen to it.  She uttered an acid "Shish!"
    "Shut it," whispered her brother.
    "We must make a stand from the beginning.  They're talking."
    "It is tiresome," murmured Miss Abbott; "but perhaps it isn't for us to interfere."
    Harriet shook her head and shished again.  The people were quiet, not because it is wrong to talk during a chorus, but because it is natural to be civil to a visitor.  For a little time she kept the whole house in order, and could smile at her brother complacently.
    Her success annoyed him.  He had grasped the principle of opera in Italy--it aims not at illusion but at entertainment--and he did not want this great evening-party to turn into a prayer-meeting.  But soon the boxes began to fill, and Harriet's power was over.  Families greeted each other across the auditorium.  People in the pit hailed their brothers and sons in the chorus, and told them how well they were singing.  When Lucia appeared by the fountain there was loud applause, and cries of "Welcome to Monteriano!"
    "Ridiculous babies!" said Harriet, settling down in her stall.