Unthinkable? Mid-opera clapping

Editorial [The Guardian, 14 August 2010]
Last month, during the Proms performance of Die Meistersinger von N¸rnberg, a few people began to applaud – which probably appalled others in the audience and would certainly have upset Richard Wagner. The opera is meant to be a comedy, and its second act ends with a riotous crowd, yet convention demands that it is heard in austere silence until the end of each act. In Italian opera you can cheer an aria – although even then a few po-faced devotees will sit ostentatiously on their hands.