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Jessica Duchen
Friday 10th September 2010
Hunting Good Will, Not

Twitter is afire this morning with anger in support of music blogger Intermezzo, who is having a run-in with the side of the Royal Opera House that isn't usually made so public. Just read this post on why all her ROH posts have disappeared.

Opera reviewer at 'Recitative', Mark Tyson, for one, is hopping mad on her behalf, and justifiably so. The threat from the ROH to exclude Intermezzo from performances in future is not only unpalatably high-handed, it is also seriously counterproductive in the seeking of good will and "new audiences" - Intermezzo's blog is very popular and a valuable resource for music-lovers here in London. Really, they should be offering her free interval drinks instead.

Now read Lionel Shriver's column on this site re the effects of the non-enforcement of little daily laws, and bigger ones...

Of course, it's true you're not meant to take photos in the auditorium or the concert hall. The vast majority of people don't. Quite a lot do, waiting politely until it's time for the curtain calls (as Intermezzo does). Anyone taking a picture during the performance itself ought to be thrown out - it puts off the musicians. I once heard a trumpeter miss a vital high note right at the start of Mahler 5 because someone took a flash photograph at just the wrong moment. But usually even such twits as that are not challenged, any more than someone holding a recording device bearing a red light is....

I don't tend to take photos at curtain-call time, generally because my equipment is inferior and always focuses itself on the bald head in front of me instead of on Ms Fleming (I took a couple of pics when she bowed in Torre del Lago, but all you can see is orchestral mush and a white blob). But also, for reasons unknown, I am always the person who's told off. There can be an entire hall of tourists all snap-snap-snapping away despite the announcements...yet it will always be me or my companion who gets the tap on the shoulder from the finger of fate should we dare to join the fray. It's like the only time in my life I ever turned a car round in a street where I shouldn't have, there just had to be a policeman looking on from just round the corner (luckily I was younger then and managed to charm him...). Other people do this all the time and never, ever get spotted. I'm sure there's a suitably onomatapoeic  Yiddish expression for being the one who's always caught out, but I can't remember what it is. 

UPDATE, 9pm: The ROH has made a public climbdown...broadcast via Twitter! They tweet as follows, with a link to their statement (anyone who still doubts the power of social media, do take note, please...) "We support social media to interact with our audiences and regret what has happened. http://bit.ly/9VST4N

Jess on Twitter: @jessicaduchen

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Linda Ginsburg
September 10th, 2010
1:09 PM
The ROH is handling this in the worst way possible and I'm hoping things can be worked out with Intermezzo. But I'm torn about pictures being taken at any time in a venue because those without integrity (unlike Intermezzo) assume rules don't apply to them. I was at the Met during the premiere season of the Richard Jones "Hansel and Gretel." I had a front row seat, just to the side of Maestro Jurowski. The two seats directly behind the conductor were filled by people who must have has a kid in the children's chorus. At the moment when the children appeared in the final scene the woman FLASHED her camera (behind the Maestro, yet!). An usher came running down the aisle but by then the damage had been done in destroying my mood and concentration. (And yes, when the usher asked who had the camera I ratted the woman out.)

Francis Norton
September 10th, 2010
10:09 AM
Lucky there's isn't a tsunami of cuts heading the arts world's way, isn't it? Ooops, maybe the ROH will need some friends...

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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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