Tantrums on Stage

December 14, 2006 at 06:32 PM · Read that the other day the principal tenor in La Scala's production ran out after the first act in a huff after being booed.

He was apparently replaced by his understudy (in jeans) who was cheered and applauded for his performance.

Has anyone heard of a similar incident before? I can't imagine a soloist walking off after the first movement because he's annoyed with the audience...

Replies (21)

December 14, 2006 at 07:24 PM · here is the video. Since you posted the A to Z- thread (which became pretty lame unfortunately), I became a real fan of the Guardian-music-section: great paper!

December 14, 2006 at 08:57 PM · If the rest of Celeste Aida matched that Bb I dare say they were right in complaining. As for Alagna's behavior--he neither sings nor acts as well as Callas that he should try to emulate her worst faults.

December 14, 2006 at 09:29 PM · I don't care how bad the guy was, booing is a fairly questionable response. Anyone who dedicates their life to a craft, and is good enough to be picked by the production company, deserves at least a modicum of respect, even if you don't like the performance.

I have very little respect for those particular members of the audience. Parmeeta, you could have just as easily titled this thread "Tantrums OFF-stage."

What a great day for the understudy, though!

December 15, 2006 at 12:03 AM · As much as I dislike Norman Lebrecht this was simply too gorgeous not to post.

I also have to admit to disagreeing with Allan. Just turning up on stage should never guarantee rapturous applause and adoration. IMHO the audience does have a right of critique. Besides, La Scala, as Lebrecht points out, is renowned for such occurences and the performer would have known it.

To me, it boils down to you pays ya money and you takes ya chances.


December 14, 2006 at 11:48 PM · Poor La Scala. First a mutiny, now this...

December 14, 2006 at 11:58 PM · I heard about that tenor's temper. Here's a video of him from a concert a few weeks ago:


December 15, 2006 at 12:08 AM · Neil sez: " Just turning up on stage should never guarantee rapturous applause and adoration. "

That's not what I said. If you dislike it, don't applaud. Or leave. booing is low-class. As that article you reference points out, the boos are often from paid thugs sent to disrupt or discredit someone's rival. How very unprofessional.

So Neil, you have the AUDACITY to dissagree with me?



Get off the forum, you stiiiiiink!

See? How does it feel?

(just making a point, not actually attacking you, of course. I respect your opinion even if I don't agree with it. I image you've never been boo'ed. I have, for reasons beyond my control, and It's not something I'd wish on anyone.)

December 15, 2006 at 12:16 AM · Welcome to the world of opera.

I'm kidding a little bit, of course. :^)

December 15, 2006 at 12:47 AM · Allan, that's incredibly mild compared to the abuse I (and many others) have to take in my job and at no stage am I allowed to throw a tanty and walk away. Sometimes people are just tooooooo precious - musicians or otherwise. :)

BTW, I really would never boo anyone (although I have gotten up and walked out of a performance - once) and I don't think much of the La Scala audience. However, I think even less of Alagna's reaction.


December 15, 2006 at 12:45 AM · Oops, double the dose. :)


December 15, 2006 at 01:01 AM · In a world where the attitude is that anyone who shows up for class gets an "A", it's refreshing to see that *some* people still have standards.

December 15, 2006 at 01:25 AM · Terrible audience response, but that is actually a tradition at la Scala. They have been known to throw rotten tomatoes,etc. The guy may be lucky to have gotten off so light. Funny world.

December 15, 2006 at 06:13 AM · Man, you classical-types are rowdier than I thought. (and I thought a drunken bar crowd was tough!)

Must be all that repression. I mean, just how long can you wear a tuxedo & sit politley in an audience before you need to strangle something?

I'm gonna' go pop the top off a nice, cold Shlitz....

December 15, 2006 at 06:44 AM · My wife reminds me that La Scala is like NASCAR, where people (admit it or not) watch it for the fiery crashes!

December 15, 2006 at 10:30 AM · Mischa, Thanks for the link! The story took so long to tell in the paper but happened in a matter of seconds on stage.

I think Alagna had bad reviews in the papers on the opening night so he was already a bit miffed.

Apparently the understudy usually watches from a distant room with closed circuit tv, but was behind stage to "soak the atmosphere" that day, when someone grabbed him and propelled him on stage (the soprano said she launched into the duet with her heart rate at 200".

I have heard boos at Covent Garden but for the production of Aida (in the mid-eighties) that closed down after the first or second night.

And maybe not in the middle, but the audience in "paradise" at Covent Garden used to be a pretty demanding lot: having paid our 2 quid price in full and seen Half the opera (literally: you craned your neck enough and you would see half the stage) but heard it in full.

December 15, 2006 at 01:55 PM · There is a wonderful story about Sir Thomas Beecham. At an opera rehearsal, after the bass aria and death scene, the soprano is supposed to come in with her aria. This particular soprano kept coming in late. Beecham replayed it many times, but the same thing happened. Finally, exasperated, he said to the soprano:

"I don't understand. Here Mr. Chaliapin dies so beautifully, and you come in late."

"It's not my fault," said the soprano, "He dies too soon."

"My dear," said Beecham in his most elegant English accent, "no opera singer ever dies too soon."

:) Sandy

December 15, 2006 at 03:46 PM · Sander,


December 16, 2006 at 12:36 AM · Well... when in Rome, etc. La Scala does have that reputation. It wasn't all that long ago, only a cuple hundred years, when booing, throwing stuff at the actors, etc., ogling the ladies, chasing the dancing girls etc., was the norm for the Brit stage, too. I liked better the habit of Dutch concert-goers, who would run into the aisles and towards the stage clapping vigorously if they liked the music. That was about 30 years ago. DO they still do that? Sue

December 16, 2006 at 03:47 PM · NY Times has a feature story on the understudy in Saturday's edition 12/16/06 (on-line, anyway).

December 16, 2006 at 02:19 PM · Another view of what happened or another character assasination? The Alagna Performance: An Eyewitness Account


December 16, 2006 at 04:39 PM · I saw a headline on Yahoo news yesterday that said he blamed it on high blood sugar or something...

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Business Directory
Violinist.com Business Directory

Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning
Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins


Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine