74 Opera Seria in a Suburban Private Theater - Inventing Silence 02

A small sociology of audience behaviour in opera from 1600 to today

(in German only)

The fact that the audience in the opera house is silent as soon as the curtain rises, as soon as the conductor raises his baton, is common today, but in the approximately 400-year history of opera in Europe it was by no means so from the beginning. On the contrary - it had to be invented and only became generally accepted from the middle of the 19th century. Before that, opera was only an accessory for an audience that was used to chatting, strolling, eating and drinking, and doing all kinds of business in the opera house. Uli Aumüller has tried to reconstruct the original behaviour and to look for the reasons that led to today's standards.

In the second part, I would like to tell them the story of silence. The history of silence in opera, from the beginnings until today.

We visit the first public opera houses in Venice - travel to London twice, and also to Bayreuth, Hof and Hamburg.

Music: Overture Artaserse by J. A. Hasse

For the overture of this episode, the introductory Sinfonia to the opera Artaserse by Johann Adolph Hasse, played by Les Talents Lyriques conducted by Christophe Rousset.

After the death of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga of Mantua in 1612, Claudio Monteverdi was dismissed from his service. He wrote further music-theatrical works for other courtly patrons, which unfortunately have not survived. Only the score of his "Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria" - "The Return of Ulysses" - has survived, although today we think of a score as something different - namely a book in which it is written down for each voice, for each instrument exactly what it has to play and when. This is different with Monteverdi - and it was not customary in his time to write down more than the notes for the singing and perhaps the numbers for the basso continuo - much was improvised, the various styles Genoese, Roman, Neapolitan were mastered by the musicians off the cuff - grew up with it. There was not really a difference between the composer and the performer of a piece of music. The composer, of course, sat at the harpsichord or the viola da gamba - and above all, the musicians at that time - around the year 1640 - had to be able to react flexibly. They did not play in front of a silent, disciplined audience - there was no stage direction rehearsed for weeks, but the singers acted spontaneously, just as they saw fit. And the audience demanded encores - not only repetitions, the dacapo of an aria, but also, in the middle of the opera, quite different arias from quite different contexts, if they just liked the singer, which didn't necessarily have to be from the same piece - the decision as to what was sung and when was up to the singers in case of doubt.

We are no longer talking about this genre of opera, which, like Jacopo Peri`s Euridice or Claudio Monteverdi`s Orfeo, were composed and performed for a courtly feast and a circle of music lovers, no, we are talking about those operas that were conceived for the first privately run public opera houses. In 1637, the Teatro San Cassiano opened the first bourgeois musical theatre in Venice with Francesco Manelli`s opera L`Andromeda, which, unlike the courtly events, had to cover all the expenses of an opera production from its revenues. All spectators, regardless of class, had to pay admission - the opera was no longer an exclusive event for a manageable number of invited guests, but it became public - open to anyone who could pay. The majority of visitors were no longer the nobility, but upper-class citizens. There is a playbill from the time showing who had hired which box. The recognisably noble names are in the minority.

Manuskript zur Sendung

Gespräche mit Sven Oliver Müller

Exposé für den geplanten Film

Handwritten script for the planned film

Kritik Süddeutsche Zeitung

This production can be ordered as a CD for 12,80 € from inpetto filmproduktion. Please send an email to: bestellungen@inpetto-filmproduktion.de

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller (Text)
Sven Oliver Müller
Editorial Jounalist
Bettina Winkler