Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-10-2017, 08:03 PM
HeyHomie's Avatar
HeyHomie is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Viburnum, MO
Posts: 9,746

How Frequent Are *MAJOR* Screw-Ups At Institutions Like The Met, The London Philharmonic, Etc.


How often would a major orchestra or opera or whatever be expected to have a major screw-up in front of a live audience? I'm talking sour notes, cracking voices, flubbed lines, lighting disasters, that sort of thing. Once or twice per season? Once or twice per decade?
__________________
If you see "Sent from my phone blah blah blah" in my post, please understand that this is automatic when I post from my phone, and I don't know how to disable it. Sorry.
  #2  
Old 12-10-2017, 08:19 PM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 42,205
Moved to Cafe Society.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator
  #3  
Old 12-10-2017, 08:31 PM
Mahaloth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: 地球
Posts: 29,492
Frequency would be difficult to determine. I only have anecdotes.

I saw a play at Stratford(the one in Canada). Very professional, top notch stuff. I would not call this a mistake, but during the play(Measure for Measure), one of the lead actors got frustrated enough with a moronic-teenager in the crowd that he stopped, held his hand up to the other actor, pointed and looked at the teenager until he looked back, and pointed at the exit until the teen got up as ushers were coming to make him leave.

We were stunned, but did not blame him.

Probably pretty rare?
  #4  
Old 12-10-2017, 09:09 PM
mack is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NYC
Posts: 3,482
I remember it was a news item (film at 11!) when Pavarotti's voice cracked.
  #5  
Old 12-10-2017, 09:14 PM
Guest-starring: Id!'s Avatar
Guest-starring: Id! is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 3,859
That would sound like a difficult question to answer. After a little bit of google-fu I came across this interesting thread. (some Pop in there as well)

Then again, there can be operatic hazards to avoid like this .

Last edited by Guest-starring: Id!; 12-10-2017 at 09:16 PM.
  #6  
Old 12-10-2017, 10:20 PM
Francis Vaughan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 5,000
I doubt the Met or London Phil are any more immune than any other professional orchestra or body. I'm a decade long full season ticket subscriber to my local symphony orchestra and semi-regular opera goer. Proper screw ups are rare enough that you can talk to orchestra members and they all remember them well. SO in the last decade thee are some of the memorable events.

Conductor has just ascended the podium, seconds away from the start, and a mobile phone rings just off stage. (I later hear that a member of the strings had forgotten to turn their phone off, and it was in their bag) a member of the brass section rushed off to find it, rushes back, and proceeding start. Conductor remains solidly glaring at the orchestra during this time.

About a minute into the start of Mahler 5, the conductor simply stops. Turns to the audience and says "can your hear that?" to which there are a lot of affirmative answers from the audience - there is high pitched electronic squealing noise. (Turns out it is a lost hearing aid that has gone into find-me mode). So the conductor sits on the side of the stage whilst the ushers madly look for the offending device. A few minutes later it is found, and the concert restarts from the beginning. (This isn't the last time this errant hearing aid has caused problems, but the only time it has actually stopped the performance dead. I'm pretty sure I know who's hearing aid it is now.)

Broken strings are an occasional difficulty. There is a defined procedure when a front desk musician breaks a string, the person behind them will swap instruments at the earliest opportunity in the music, and usually will restring the instrument as the performance proceeds. Once done, at an appropriate moment, they may swap back. If you have a string concerto, and the soloist breaks a string, the section lead of the appropriate instrument (which is going to mean concert-master if violin, or principal viola or cello for other strings) This will set in motion a next level swap with the next row back. That is rare, but can happen. I have seen two principals - concertmaster and principal cello break strings at almost the same time, leading to a remarkable amount of on-stage faffing about - all whilst the performance continued with nary the slightest hiccup. Indeed many audience members were unaware it had happened. The conductor shared his bouquet of flowers at the end of the performance with the two string section members who had had to give up their instruments and manage the broken strings.

As to bad notes, the nature of brass is that you always have the risk of a bad note from time to time. But a professional orchestra is not going to see many. Maybe a couple of obvious ones in the last decade. However if you talk to the orchestra members, there are more issues in performance than you would know about. However unless you were immersed in the minutiae of the piece, you would usually miss them. Most are trivial things, but you do get missed entries, or things that go wrong but are covered up by the overall flow of the orchestra. A couple of weeks ago there was a bang on stage from the double basses. Talking to the guys afterwards it was a silly stuff-up. The conductor had made a change to the performance late in rehearsals - deciding to lighten up the double bass sound by reducing the number playing in one spot. One of the double bass players forgot, and went to enter along with his cohort, and one of the others gesturing to him not to play, he panicked slightly realising his mistake and and he pulled his bow away he hit something. I sit close to the stage so heard it. Most people didn't. However he was mortified.

So - really clear problems, every few years. Minor stuff ups that usually only members of the orchestra realise have happened - a few a year. Things not going exactly perfectly, really every performance - it is surprising how hard on themselves the performers are. When you have 70 to 80 performers at a professional level, you will always find someone who isn't happy with how they went on any given night.
  #7  
Old 12-10-2017, 10:54 PM
Aspenglow's Avatar
Aspenglow is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Oregon
Posts: 3,687
Francis Vaughan, I enjoyed reading about your experiences. Learned some new things. I appreciate you taking the time to share them!
  #8  
Old 12-10-2017, 11:57 PM
Aspidistra is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 5,307
We had season tickets to the local major professional theatre for a couple of years, and I do remember one somewhat exciting incident at the end of a play.

The play had in fact finished, and the actors came bounding onto the stage enthusiastically to take the curtain call - one of them a bit too enthusiastically. He caught a 2 metre high perspex panel (part of the set) on the way through with his hand or elbow, which promptly detached from the rest of the set, bounced across the stage, and slid over the edge. Fortunately, not close enough to any actual audience member to actually have endangered one. But it was a pretty big panel. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to end up under it.

Everyone just took a moment or two to be stunned, and then they just laughed, shrugged, and kept on taking the curtain call.

I don't recall any news items subsequently about people being brained by flying set bits during the rest of the run, so I presume they managed to put it all back together securely enough to do the job.
__________________
It is easier to fall than to climb ... letting go for the fall brings a wonderful feeling of ease and power
- Katherine Kerr Daggerspell
  #9  
Old 12-11-2017, 02:08 AM
Francis Vaughan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 5,000
I'll add what is probably the biggest stuff up you might ever encounter, although it wasn't an indoor concert event as such. As a very big deal, Ennio Morricone came here to conduct a concert of all his own works. The concert was set up outdoors, the orchestra on a large covered stage, and audience of some thousands seated on chairs on the grass all on the riverbank. It was not a cheap concert. Premium tickets were more than $100.
Sadly the concert - as part of our annual arts festival - is at a time of year we call Mad March - because everything you want to go and see is on that month (mostly because the weather is almost guaranteed perfect.) Sadly, a competing event is a major street circuit car race. I kid you not. The circuit is probably less than 1km from the concert stage. You would hope there would be no conflict - evening concert - daytime car race activities. But nobody thought to check the running schedules - and just as the concert began, the Porshe Cup practice started. The air was filled with the sound of race cars at full throttle screaming around the track. Ennio conducted a piece, which luckily the amplified orchestra was able to just about drive out over the sound of the cars, but as a soon as the music stopped, vroooommmmm - vroooommmmm. Ennio stalked off the stage. He returned a few minutes later and tried the next piece. Same thing. This went on for about 30 minutes - during which time apparently senior politicians were making frantic phone calls to try to get the cars stopped. To no avail. But after 30 minutes the practice period came to a stop anyway. So peace reigned - nearly. No sooner had the cars stopped, but the workers at the nearby theatre restaurant decided to start to put the rubbish for the day out into the bins. So the cars were replaced by repeated and ongoing sounds of breaking glass as someone decided that all the bottles for the day needed to be properly smashed as they were disposed off. Eventually silence did reign, after probably half of the concert was wrecked. I remember going home close to livid with the appalling ineptitude shown by the organisers. The entire debacle made headlines in the paper the next day and probably shortened the careers of a few people. I can imagine that Ennio never forgot it either. I imagine he was livid as well.
  #10  
Old 12-11-2017, 02:21 AM
Aspidistra is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 5,307
That's the sort of story guaranteed to make anyone feel better about whatever your latest work cock up was.

Our Grand Prix is still quite audible 10k or more from the racetrack, so I can only imagine what it must be like to try to sing against a car race a kilometre away!
  #11  
Old 12-11-2017, 02:50 AM
don't ask is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 18,166
In arguably the greatest tennis match of all time, 2008 Wimbledon Championships – Men's singles final there were 79 unforced errors. I don't imagine a performance by a top class orchestra or opera company that contained 79 unforced errors would be viewed quite as favorably.
  #12  
Old 12-11-2017, 03:09 AM
Robot Arm is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Medford, MA
Posts: 23,325
Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Vaughan View Post
I'll add what is probably the biggest stuff up you might ever encounter, although it wasn't an indoor concert event as such. As a very big deal, Ennio Morricone came here to conduct a concert of all his own works. The concert was set up outdoors, the orchestra on a large covered stage, and audience of some thousands seated on chairs on the grass all on the riverbank. It was not a cheap concert. Premium tickets were more than $100.
I had a ticket to see him in New York a few years ago, 6th row. He had to cancel for health reasons; and at his age I don't know if he tours or conducts anymore. So, as fucked up as that concert was, I'm still envious.
  #13  
Old 12-11-2017, 03:20 AM
jtur88 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Cebu, Philippines
Posts: 14,329
I once heard that jugglers drop the ball on purpose once in a while, just to make the audience think juggling is harder than it is. A friend who worked as a circus performer confirmed that those acts are ridiculously easy. So I suspect that at that level of professionalism, mistakes would be exceedingly rare.
  #14  
Old 12-11-2017, 04:28 AM
Francis Vaughan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 5,000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
I had a ticket to see him in New York a few years ago, 6th row. He had to cancel for health reasons; and at his age I don't know if he tours or conducts anymore. So, as fucked up as that concert was, I'm still envious.
In truth it was more about being there and seeing the man. He sent an understudy to actually rehearse the orchestra, and only took the stage for the performance (maybe final rehearsal, but not sure). So, in truth, we weren't seeing his conducting of his own work, but rather him waving the baton at an orchestra that had already been sorted out for him to perform his work*. But you did get a pretty good night's music, and a very good appreciation of just how amazing a composer he was.

*one might argue that the understudy would have been well primed in exactly what the maestro expected in that preparation, so perhaps I'm being a bit mean. But the orchestra would have never got to the point of really gelling with him and you felt that. There is a point where you can tell when a conductor and an orchestra really understand one another and they they play at a quite different level. Not all conductors can manage that, not by any means. (We had the fabulous pleasure of having Jeffery Tate as principal guest conductor, and were looking forward to more concerts still when he very sadly passed. There is no doubt, when the conductor really has a vision, the ability, and mutual trust with the musicians, absolute magic happens.)
  #15  
Old 12-11-2017, 04:46 AM
panache45's Avatar
panache45 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
Posts: 42,105
The performance I’m recalling was in the mid-80s, at the Metropolitan Opera. It was a performance of Die Walküre, and throughout the first act, the soprano was having obvious difficulty with her voice. At the end of the act, it was announced that the great Hildegarde Behrens was being dragged out of retirement, to take over the role. The intermission was endless, while she was being rushed in and prepped for the role. Nobody left, as we all anticipated a rare treat. The rest of the opera was spectacular, as the legendary Behrens proved why she was famous for this role.
  #16  
Old 12-11-2017, 05:35 AM
PatrickLondon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: London
Posts: 3,270
Audience misbehavious of various sorts happen all the time. Richard Griffths once famously stopped a performance and berated an audience member whose phone had gone off, and I (and no doubt lots of others) could cheerfully have strangled the bloke who coughed so very loud in the opening melody of the Rite of Spring in one BBC Proms concert. But that's the weather for professionals, not a failure of standards on their part.

The fact that real performance problems are memorable underlines their rarity, I think. I do remember at another Prom, Anne Schwanewilms had some problem in Strauss's Four Last Songs, and suddenly dropped an octave at a crucial point where the line is soaring away into the high registers. But incidents like these are so remarkable because they happen once in a blue moon:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n89F9YKPNOg - but this one is an example of just how great a professional Pires is

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLb1irjBoKI - in that one, there were multiple errors - the conductor had allowed Kaufmann to reprise his great aria, which is not normally done, and for whatever reason Georghiu was late on stage thereafter to pick up the action. But that's opera: I think there's a fund of stories of bad behaviour on stage - upstaging, distractions and so on - when Caruso was singing "Your tiny hand is frozen" to Nellie Melba, he supposedly slipped a hot sausage into her hand.

Last edited by PatrickLondon; 12-11-2017 at 05:38 AM.
  #17  
Old 12-11-2017, 06:06 AM
Les Espaces Du Sommeil's Avatar
Les Espaces Du Sommeil is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 1,665
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickLondon View Post
...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n89F9YKPNOg - but this one is an example of just how great a professional Pires is...
I was going to mention this .
  #18  
Old 12-11-2017, 06:26 AM
Novelty Bobble is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: South East England
Posts: 8,439
Quote:
Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
In arguably the greatest tennis match of all time, 2008 Wimbledon Championships – Men's singles final there were 79 unforced errors. I don't imagine a performance by a top class orchestra or opera company that contained 79 unforced errors would be viewed quite as favorably.
I always find it amusing when "unforced errors" are quoted in such matches.

They are a subjective judgement anyway and when faced with either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal at the other end of the court there is really no such thing.
__________________
I'm saving this space for the first good insult hurled my way
  #19  
Old 12-11-2017, 06:56 AM
RivkahChaya's Avatar
RivkahChaya is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,925
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
I once heard that jugglers drop the ball on purpose once in a while, just to make the audience think juggling is harder than it is. A friend who worked as a circus performer confirmed that those acts are ridiculously easy. So I suspect that at that level of professionalism, mistakes would be exceedingly rare.
I juggle, and the audience doesn't know what is hard. Juggling three of anything is easy, including knives, garden sickles, machetes, flaming torches, etc. Eating an apple while you juggle it is easy. Juggling more than three objects is hard. Juggling five is supremely hard. Five beanbags is eons harder than the apple trick, but the apple trick looks much more impressive to an audience.

"Playing catch" with the audience is ridiculously easy. That's where you toss one ball or beanbag out into the audience, and they toss one into you, and you catch it and keep juggling. But it looks really impressive, and is fun for audiences. Throwing a ball behind your back while juggling is harder, and not as impressive.

Anyway, main topic. I once say Giselle at the Bolshoi, and the lead dancer fell on her ass. She got up so fast, it was a tiny blip. Didn't really mar the performance at all.

Also, I saw a play recently that I had done in high school. They made five or six line slips, but just kept going without breaking character. People who didn't happen to know the script, like I did, would never have known a line was flubbed. It'd be harder to to with Shakespeare, but not impossible.

In an orchestral piece, if there are several violins, and just one comes in late, or hits a bad note, I'll bet the audience doesn't notice, as long as all the others get it right.

When I did theater in high school, our director always told us, if we made a mistake, look for all the world like it was exactly what we were supposed to do, and the audience wouldn't know it was a mistake.

There's a scene in the movie Bringing Up Baby where Katharine Hepburn's shoe breaks, and she proceeds with a very funny routine about it. No one would ever guess that her shoe broke by accident, and the entire scene was improvised, but was so funny, the director decided to use it in the film. I had seen the movie three or four times, and enjoyed that scene, before I learned that this was improvised (from TCM's intro). I watched it carefully that time, and you can't tell. It's seamless.

I think professionalism isn't so much never making a mistake, but dealing with whatever happens so that the act is smooth and perfect, and the audience can't tell what is rehearsed and what isn't.
  #20  
Old 12-11-2017, 07:06 AM
Senegoid is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Sunny California
Posts: 14,840
Depending on how broadly one cares to define the scope of the question, one could put air show disasters high on the list of performance fuck-ups.

Bad enough to have a plane crash at an air show with a whole audience watching. Wikipedia list of air show accidents.

Worse still when a plane crashes into the audience, killing and maiming large numbers of spectators. People subjected to this level of unscripted excitement should either get their money back or be charged double. This raises "audience participation" to a whole new level.

1988 Ramstein air show disaster.. 70 dead; over 300 seriously injured.
__________________
=========================================
  #21  
Old 12-11-2017, 07:09 AM
Joey P is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 28,514
Quote:
Originally Posted by RivkahChaya View Post
I juggle, and the audience doesn't know what is hard. Juggling three of anything is easy, including knives, garden sickles, machetes, flaming torches, etc. Eating an apple while you juggle it is easy. Juggling more than three objects is hard. Juggling five is supremely hard. Five beanbags is eons harder than the apple trick, but the apple trick looks much more impressive to an audience.

"Playing catch" with the audience is ridiculously easy. That's where you toss one ball or beanbag out into the audience, and they toss one into you, and you catch it and keep juggling. But it looks really impressive, and is fun for audiences. Throwing a ball behind your back while juggling is harder, and not as impressive.
That's about what I was going to say but much better. I know how to juggle but am awful at it. I can keep a couple of balls up in the air for just long enough for people to say 'you know how to juggle' and then they fall. A combination of teaching myself in high school and working at a produce store (lots of bruised produce and free time) and I managed to get just good enough to be at the point where I know how and if I'd spend a few hours practicing I'd be able to keep the balls in air for more than a few seconds.

But with all that said, yea, it's easy. Even with how not good I am, I'm quite sure no one at the pro level is dropping anything by accident. Even with how not good I am, when I was in college I found a friend at about the same level as myself and with, literally 10 minutes of practice and some intoxicants we could each be juggling face to face and on a three count toss one of the balls between each other.
Also, I recall that when I was first learning how, I could do honeydew/cantaloupes as long as I could get someone to toss me the third one.
  #22  
Old 12-11-2017, 07:19 AM
DesertDog is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Mesa, Ariz.
Posts: 5,348
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickLondon View Post
Audience misbehavious of various sorts happen all the time. Richard Griffths once famously stopped a performance and berated an audience member whose phone had gone off
Gone off three times, according to the article. Why wasn't she ejected after the second time or, more important perhaps, didn't she silence it after the first? I mean, it is easy enough to forget to silence a phone but after the gaffe is found out, do it then!
  #23  
Old 12-11-2017, 07:29 AM
Yllaria is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Stockton
Posts: 10,717
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
I once heard that jugglers drop the ball on purpose once in a while, just to make the audience think juggling is harder than it is. A friend who worked as a circus performer confirmed that those acts are ridiculously easy. So I suspect that at that level of professionalism, mistakes would be exceedingly rare.
Depends how far the performer is pushing the envelope of their ability. This is not a performance. It's just nine balls at a time trial. The record is 11 balls, but that was a 'flash', which means every ball was caught and re-thrown at least once. If 11 balls was part of a performance, I'd expect a musical sting to announce the success, followed by balls dropping.

The Flying Karamazov Brothers rarely dropped equipment, except during the audience challenge, where people would bring in odd things to juggle. In once case a bag of flour broke and started showering arcs of white - but the thing that was dropped was two balls connected by elastic. That thing did not travel in a clean arc. I forget what the third thing was.
  #24  
Old 12-11-2017, 08:23 AM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is online now
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 82,709
Quote:
Quoth RivkahChaya:

I think professionalism isn't so much never making a mistake, but dealing with whatever happens so that the act is smooth and perfect, and the audience can't tell what is rehearsed and what isn't.
That's what I was going to say. What separates the top performers from, say, the community-theater level isn't the number of screw-ups, but how well they recover from them. Since you mentioned Shakespeare, I know just enough of the Bard's work to be dangerous, and rare is the show where nobody drops a line. But most people don't notice, and even those (like me) who do notice mostly don't care, as long as they keep going past it.
  #25  
Old 12-11-2017, 08:34 AM
MrAtoz is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 1,528
Here is a YouTube link to Brünnhilde's entrance in the 2011 Met production of Die Walküre, from a PBS behind-the-scenes documentary. This was a rather controversial production, at least partly because of the incredibly elaborate set designed by Robert LePage.

At about 1:35 in the video, Deborah Voigt, playing Brünnhilde, trips on the set and takes a rather nasty-looking tumble. She's okay, though, and they go right on with the performance.

Last edited by MrAtoz; 12-11-2017 at 08:36 AM.
  #26  
Old 12-11-2017, 08:39 AM
RealityChuck's Avatar
RealityChuck is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 42,369
Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Vaughan View Post
Broken strings are an occasional difficulty. There is a defined procedure when a front desk musician breaks a string, the person behind them will swap instruments at the earliest opportunity in the music, and usually will restring the instrument as the performance proceeds.
I was at a concert featuring Itzhak Perlman, when a string broke in the middle of his solo.

And, as everyone who has heard the story knows
SPOILER:
He turned to the first violinist and asked to borrow his violin. A stagehand took Perlman's backstage and restrung it for the second movement. There was applause after the first movement, since he played so well on a violin he was unfamiliar with.
__________________
"If a person saying he was something was all there was to it, this country'd be full of rich men and good-looking women. Too bad it isn't that easy.... In short, when someone else says you're a writer, that's when you're a writer... not before."
Purveyor of fine science fiction since 1982.
  #27  
Old 12-11-2017, 09:58 AM
burpo the wonder mutt's Avatar
burpo the wonder mutt is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: NE Florida
Posts: 23,378
A statistically lean example:

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, 20+ years ago. A Night of Henry Mancini (featuring his daughter on the vocal parts). Here comes the Pink Panther theme: Dead-ant. Dead-ant. Dead-ant, dead-ant, dead-ant and so on. The solo sax repeats the first phrase instead of going on to the second phrase, but slides into the second phrase halfway through the screw-up. A good save, sort of, but that may be the one place in all of music where you don't want to be that mistaken (major hyperbole alert).

Who cares, any way? I got to hear a wonderful suite from "Creature From the Black Lagoon." When those dissonant horns show up, the blue-rinse ladies in front of me were cringing--Ew, what is that? That's the Gill-man comin' for ya, Bwa-ha-ha, I wanted to yell, but didn't; the symphony is a refined place, after all.
  #28  
Old 12-11-2017, 10:32 AM
RivkahChaya's Avatar
RivkahChaya is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9,925
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
I was at a concert featuring Itzhak Perlman, when a string broke in the middle of his solo.

And, as everyone who has heard the story knows
SPOILER:
He turned to the first violinist and asked to borrow his violin. A stagehand took Perlman's backstage and restrung it for the second movement. There was applause after the first movement, since he played so well on a violin he was unfamiliar with.
When I saw The Indigo Girls live, they had two extra guitars set up on the stage, I assume in case a string broke. They never touched them, and neither did any of the backup players. I don't know enough about guitars to tell what kind of quality they were, but they were propped in stands where they could be easily grabbed with only one or two notes missed if a string broke.

I know from knowing Josh Bell, that even though a musician will have a favorite performing instrument, they own more than one. Josh has a Cremona violin, but he also has a world-class modern one as well.
  #29  
Old 12-11-2017, 10:40 AM
Tom Tildrum is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Falls Church, Va.
Posts: 14,004
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aspidistra View Post
...with his hand or elbow, which promptly detached..., bounced across the stage, and slid over the edge.


  #30  
Old 12-11-2017, 10:52 AM
Robot Arm is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Medford, MA
Posts: 23,325
Quote:
Originally Posted by RivkahChaya View Post
When I saw The Indigo Girls live, they had two extra guitars set up on the stage, I assume in case a string broke. They never touched them, and neither did any of the backup players. I don't know enough about guitars to tell what kind of quality they were, but they were propped in stands where they could be easily grabbed with only one or two notes missed if a string broke.
There are a variety of alternate tunings for guitar. Some songs require the lowest string to be tuned to a D instead of E, for example. If you're going to play a song that requires a different tuning, it's a lot easier have another guitar already prepared than to retune the one you've got.

But since they didn't use them, it sounds like you're probably right. Most bands figure out their set lists for concerts in advance. The only other option I can think of is that the extra guitars were alternate tunings, but they just decided not play that song on the night you saw them.
  #31  
Old 12-11-2017, 12:06 PM
DrCube is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Caseyville, IL
Posts: 7,333
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
I once heard that jugglers drop the ball on purpose once in a while, just to make the audience think juggling is harder than it is. A friend who worked as a circus performer confirmed that those acts are ridiculously easy. So I suspect that at that level of professionalism, mistakes would be exceedingly rare.
When I went to Bonnaroo there was a tent for the comedy acts. I went two days in a row. In both cases the opener was a juggler. On the first day, he did some amazing, dangerous things like juggling several running chainsaws, torches and butcher knives while unicycling on a tightrope. He also told a few jokes during the show. I don't know if he was a comedian, or if that was just his showmanship accentuating the performance.

Anyway, the second day, he seemed a little off form. He stumbled and dropped a butcher knife in the lead up to the big flaming chainsaw finale. He brushed it off with a joke, but he never did finish the finale. He did some more, tamer juggling and told more jokes than the day before, but I guess he just felt he wasn't up to the challenge of flames, chainsaws and tightrope unicycling that day. If I hadn't seen that same act the day before, I wouldn't have known anything was amiss.

I guess my point is that not all juggling is easy, and not all dropped balls are just for show. Good thing that guy had enough talent to continue the set even after he realized the dangerous stuff wasn't going to work out that day.
  #32  
Old 12-11-2017, 12:18 PM
Wilson is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Metro NYC
Posts: 1,451
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
I was at a concert featuring Itzhak Perlman, when a string broke in the middle of his solo.
There's also the famous story of violinist Midori, who at the age of 15 while playing at Tanglewood, performing Bernstein's Serenade with Lenny himself conducting, broke strings on not one but on two violins in one movement. She kept going through it all and finished the piece on the associate concertmaster's violin.

I've never been present for something that momentous, but I do remember on one of my first trips to the chamber music festival in Marlboro, Vermont, having the cellist break a string in the first movement of (I think) one of Brahms' quartets. In chamber music, there's no backup instruments around, so obviously they had to stop while the cellist went backstage to restring his instrument. A few minutes later, they restarted the piece from the beginning.
  #33  
Old 12-11-2017, 12:56 PM
gigi is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Flatlander in NH
Posts: 25,528
The Met has put in a machine for the latest production of The Ring, and its pieces are controlled by computer. I didn't see it but apparently early on it crapped out and the Windows logo was projected instead of whatever video image was intended. I cringe whenever I hear about it.


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/18/ar...g-machine.html
  #34  
Old 12-11-2017, 01:13 PM
GargoyleWB's Avatar
GargoyleWB is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Somewhere cold 'n squishy
Posts: 5,402
I saw Leo Kottke break a string twice in a single concert. He just used the time to restring and tell long rambling funny stories, which is part of his natural concert flow anyway.
__________________
"He was shortish. And oldish. And brownish. And mossy. And he spoke with a voice that was sharpish and bossy."
  #35  
Old 12-11-2017, 01:26 PM
MrAtoz is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 1,528
Quote:
Originally Posted by gigi View Post
The Met has put in a machine for the latest production of The Ring, and its pieces are controlled by computer. I didn't see it but apparently early on it crapped out and the Windows logo was projected instead of whatever video image was intended. I cringe whenever I hear about it.


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/18/ar...g-machine.html
Note that this article is from 2013. That machine is the same monstrous thing that Deborah Voigt fell off of in the video that I linked in post #25.

The Ring is on the Met's schedule for 2019, with promises that the machine will be "quieter" this time. See this brief article from OperaWire. Of course, the noise was the least of its malfunctions.
  #36  
Old 12-11-2017, 01:33 PM
RealityChuck's Avatar
RealityChuck is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 42,369
Rick Neilson of Cheap Trick uses a different guitar for each song, primarily to show off his guitar collection.

I've seen the Flying Karamozov Brothers a few times. The do drop things while juggling, but say, "I don't think anybody noticed." Usually, that's a bad thing to do (don't call attention to mistakes -- the audience often doesn't notice them), but it fit in nicely with their act.
__________________
"If a person saying he was something was all there was to it, this country'd be full of rich men and good-looking women. Too bad it isn't that easy.... In short, when someone else says you're a writer, that's when you're a writer... not before."
Purveyor of fine science fiction since 1982.
  #37  
Old 12-11-2017, 01:34 PM
DSYoungEsq is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Indian Land, S Carolina
Posts: 14,192
I guess I'm lucky. I've had season tix to the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra for several years now and have never seen a major, noticeable gaffe, nor any broken strings. I watched the Carolina Opera for a few seasons (2008 - 2014) and they never had any major screw ups, either, that I recall.
  #38  
Old 12-11-2017, 02:20 PM
Dewey Finn is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 28,017
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickLondon View Post
Audience misbehavious of various sorts happen all the time. Richard Griffths once famously stopped a performance and berated an audience member whose phone had gone off, and I (and no doubt lots of others) could cheerfully have strangled the bloke who coughed so very loud in the opening melody of the Rite of Spring in one BBC Proms concert. But that's the weather for professionals, not a failure of standards on their part.
This article from Time Magazine mentions that and other incidents of audience misbehavior, most of which involve cell phones.
  #39  
Old 12-11-2017, 02:38 PM
Tom Tildrum is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Falls Church, Va.
Posts: 14,004
Pete Townshend probably had some nights where the guitar just would not shatter.
  #40  
Old 12-11-2017, 02:52 PM
That Don Guy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 4,472
Quote:
Originally Posted by mack View Post
I remember it was a news item (film at 11!) when Pavarotti's voice cracked.
I think that was at La Scala, and at the end of the opera, the crowd gave the "traditional" response when Pavarotti took his curtain call - they threw ripped-up pieces of paper at him.

One I remember was in a pre-Broadway preview performance of Elton John's version of Aida (a rare Disney flop, but that's another matter) in Chicago; in the closing scene, a portion of the set rises off of the stage, with the two stars in it - but when it got about 10 feet in the air, it quickly fell back to the stage. A number of doctors rushed to the front of the stage, telling the two stars, "Don't move."
  #41  
Old 12-11-2017, 03:11 PM
Robot Arm is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Medford, MA
Posts: 23,325
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
I've seen the Flying Karamozov Brothers a few times. The do drop things while juggling, but say, "I don't think anybody noticed." Usually, that's a bad thing to do (don't call attention to mistakes -- the audience often doesn't notice them), but it fit in nicely with their act.
I saw then a couple times as well. One of their routines was allegedly improvised, with the Brothers juggling and passing clubs back and forth, saying that they were making up the passes as they went along. There were several drops, but they had enough quips prepared to make it part of the fun.
  #42  
Old 12-11-2017, 03:26 PM
Guest-starring: Id!'s Avatar
Guest-starring: Id! is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 3,859
In the late 80's I saw the Victoria Symphony Orchestra do Mahler's 9th. During the conductor's opening remarks, he went into a four-sneeze fit. What would have been a normal occurrence looked very odd behind the podium, AND THEN he sneezed a couple MORE times at the end of his spiel, this time generating some quiet chuckles.
Sidebar - one of the idiots who joined us had half his beard shaved off - we wanted to ditch him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RivkahChaya View Post
When I saw The Indigo Girls live, they had two extra guitars set up on the stage, I assume in case a string broke. They never touched them, and neither did any of the backup players. I don't know enough about guitars to tell what kind of quality they were, but they were propped in stands where they could be easily grabbed with only one or two notes missed if a string broke.

Usually a very common sight - I can't think of too many performances where I didn't see back-up equipment onstage. Saw the largest bank of onstage back-up guitars at a Frank Zappa gig in '84. I'm guessing they were mainly rhythm guitarist Ray White's, considering Zappa usually doesn't seem to part with his red Gibson SG all too often.
(GAS - gear acquisition syndrome)



/derail/

Quote:
Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
I always find it amusing when "unforced errors" are quoted in such matches.

They are a subjective judgement anyway...

Subjective or not, it's a totally cut and dry determination the vast majority of the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
...when faced with either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal at the other end of the court there is really no such thing.

Sheesh - quite the hagiography!


/end of derail/
  #43  
Old 12-11-2017, 03:37 PM
Haunted Pasta is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 561
Now would be an appropriate time to offer the Tiptree Sneeze.

Of course, ANY time is an appropriate time to offer the Tiptree Sneeze.
  #44  
Old 12-11-2017, 04:07 PM
Kent Clark's Avatar
Kent Clark is offline
You mean he's STILL here?
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 25,715
Way back when, I saw The Who while Keith Moon was still the drummer. Moon had a coffee can filled with drumsticks next to him, and every time a stick broke (which was several times during the show) he'd simply grab a new stick with one hand while keeping the beat going with the other.
  #45  
Old 12-11-2017, 05:25 PM
gigi is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Flatlander in NH
Posts: 25,528
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrAtoz View Post
Note that this article is from 2013. That machine is the same monstrous thing that Deborah Voigt fell off of in the video that I linked in post #25.

The Ring is on the Met's schedule for 2019, with promises that the machine will be "quieter" this time. See this brief article from OperaWire. Of course, the noise was the least of its malfunctions.
I did look through the thread; sorry I missed it! Yeah, it's too bad they're stuck with that thing for a while. I saw the Met Opera of Die Walkure and loved the duet with Kaufman and Voight except for the prodigious string of saliva hanging off his lip. I needed to close my eyes and just enjoy the beauty of the sounds!

With the 50th anniversary of the Met location, they've been showing clips of the documentary of the opening year and Leontyne Price getting stuck inside the pyramid in Zeffirelli's Antony and Cleopatra.


Speaking of cell phones, I've crabbed about it before, but I went to see Sam Rockwell in Fool for Love. One act, quick, intense, did I mention Sam Rockwell America's greatest living actor? We get there ($140 a ticket and a five-hour drive) and the program has a big insert sticking out the top PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR PHONES. The announcement before the play PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR PHONES. The play goes for a while, intense, crazy. The principals sit down at a table during a rare quieter moment and RING. Now, you see the actors delaying a little, but the old lady whose phone it is doesn't realize it's ringing for at least four rings. The ushers are on high alert, scanning. She finally realizes it and supposedly turns it off. But, a couple of minutes later, RING. I blame the person with her too; he was younger and more aware and should have asked her about her phone.
  #46  
Old 12-11-2017, 06:42 PM
MacSpon is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 999
A number of years ago, when the Russian State Symphony was visiting New Zealand... At the end of a concert, as they began to play an encore, the harpist came in playing the wrong piece. She stopped playing after about a bar, but it had been...really quite a prominent bar.
  #47  
Old 12-11-2017, 08:35 PM
Guest-starring: Id!'s Avatar
Guest-starring: Id! is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 3,859
Quote:
Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
Way back when, I saw The Who while Keith Moon was still the drummer. Moon had a coffee can filled with drumsticks next to him, and every time a stick broke (which was several times during the show) he'd simply grab a new stick with one hand while keeping the beat going with the other.

At the risk of sounding like an uppity gainsayer again (really! I'm trying not to!) - any drummer, professional or not, without some kind of stash/bag/thingie as a container for spare sticks, is a woefully unprepared one. Heh, using a coffee can is a new one - usually it's a three-sectioned bag that's laced up to the floor tom, to the immediate right of the drummer's kick leg (unless if you're some Quasimodo freak like Phil Collins and puts his floor tom to the left of him)(among scant other trogs)
In the 150-odd gigs I drummed in, I can't remember not breaking at least one stick (a common nuisance), and any drummer, especially if he/she's in a band that plays with any regularity, basically has to be able to keep the beat, one-handed, while reaching for a spare.
  #48  
Old 12-12-2017, 02:33 AM
ioioio's Avatar
ioioio is offline
Friend of Cecil
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: stuck inside a mobile
Posts: 3,777
I sang in several symphony orchestra choruses over the course of 40 years. There were many small flubs that got swallowed up in the overall sound, but few major errors. When they happened, though, they were traumatic.

At a performance of Carol of the Bells, the sopranos came in a measure early. The conductor had to stop the piece and start over. I had friends in the audience, and when I later mentioned the error, not one of them had been aware of it! I still don’t understand that.

We once performed in the convention center (bad bad idea for many reasons). During the concert, there was a car auction (with loud speaker) going on elsewhere in the building. The concert was absolutely ruined. At one point, after a lovely quiet Brahms piece was destroyed, the conductor threw his arms in the air and shouted, “Won’t somebody buy that damned car?”
  #49  
Old 12-12-2017, 03:41 AM
jtur88 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Cebu, Philippines
Posts: 14,329
I attended an Andres Segovia concert, before which it announced that he would tolerate no disturbances. If anyone came in or left while he was playing, he would get up and leave. During the concert, a train passed about a mile away and its whistle could be heard in the distance. Segovia laid his guitar down on the floor and patiently sat there and waited until the train receded into the inaudible distance, and picked up his guitar and continued.
  #50  
Old 12-12-2017, 04:31 AM
Filbert is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 5,363
Regarding the juggling hijack, I juggle (badly) and hang round with a lot of other people who juggle well, including quite a few pros. I travel internationally to attend juggling conventions, where the best in the world teach and perform, often trying out their new shows before they take them on tour. Drops happen all the time.

Sometimes the drop is deliberate, very skilled performer friends have confirmed that they sometimes do it to make stuff seem harder, especially on the easier stuff, for drama build up, and if they're doing the show as a less serious character. But, if you haven't tried it, as Rivkahchaya said, juggling is very hard to judge difficulty for, and a lot of the drops are real, even for the seriously good professionals. If they're pushing their limits, they're going to mess up occasionally, regardless of where those limits are, and if they don't push their limits, they're not going to be much good as a performer.

I would suggest that, as a general rule, if the performer is juggling 5 objects, the drop was probably not deliberate; if they're juggling 7+, its almost certainly not deliberate.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:30 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017