"Excuse me!"





The ultimate story of concert rudeness happened back in the Fifties at the old Metropolitan Opera House (the story made headlines across the U.S.) At the old Met, the first row of orchestra seats and the front chairs of the orchestra itself were almost on the same level, separated only by 3-foot curtained railing. Consequently, the conductor's upper back and head could be seen by the entire audience. At one performance (I've forgotten the opera but it must have been Italian,) while the conductor (I think it was Cellini or maybe Cleva, I'm no longer sure) and the orchestra were performing the overture, an elderly lady carrying two large filled shopping bags made her way slowly up the aisle. When she got to the first row, she told the persons in the first two aisle seats to stand up so she could make her way to her seat. When they refused, she began pushing her way into the aisle--but she lost her balance. She fell backwards, against (and partly over) the curtained railing, bumping into the back of the conductor--who was then pushed forward and consequently fell off the podium into the musicians. As I recall the news reports (I was not there), the orchestra did not stop playing while a few of the players helped the maestro back to the podium, where he eventually resumed beating.

Mark Star