77 The End of Saalschlachten - Inventing Silence 05

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 patterns and to look for the reasons that led to today's standards.

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

The last part of our story takes us to Paris, to one of the last great auditorium battles in the history of European music theatre - we visit the Berlin Metropoltheater and end our journey -which we began some 400 years ago in Rome and Florence - in Stuttgart.

Music: A song by Fritzi Massary ...

With some longing that every woman has in her heart, sung by Fritzi Massary begins this last episode of Music Hour, but the history of opera in the 20th century begins a few years earlier than this recording was made, back in 1913. However, one could also say that the history of 19th century opera has not ended to this day. The German composer and pianist Moritz Eggert has counted. There were 556 opera and operetta premieres in the 2016/2017 season in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. 497 premieres were by composers who have already died, 63 by composers who are still alive - so the ratio of dead to living is about 8 to 1. If you add to this the fact that many of the works by living composers were written for the field of children's and youth opera, i.e. were not performed on the big stage at all, but only on the "small" stage or in the workshop, the ratio looks even worse. No cinema, writes Moritz Eggert in his blog, would dare to show mainly silent films from the 1920s, no museum with temporary exhibitions would dare to display mainly 19th century oil paintings. And no book publisher would dare to publish mainly in Sütterlin typeface. But that, Eggert continues, dear friends of music, is exactly what our opera houses do. Sure, they play 19th-century operas (which make up about 85% of the repertoire) sometimes in a concentration camp, sometimes on Mars or sometimes under Ivana Trump's skirt, but - the mouse doesn't bite off a thread - the music is the same. And that's what it's all about in the end, otherwise there would be no need to do opera. And thousands of singers are trained to sing only in a vocal style that is precisely adapted to these 19th century operas (though not to everything that came before or after). As long as this is the case, our opera landscape is dead, impoverished and pathetic, no matter how good the quality of the productions. So much for Moritz Eggert.

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