Art, Ballet, Dance, Music

Concert Etiquette for Children

Teresa Carreño, c. 1862 (printed later), Modern albumen print from wet plate collodion negative by Mathew Brady Studio. Taken with permission from Flicker with CC license by Cliff1066.
Teresa Carreño, c. 1862 *

Last Saturday we went to an Art Show at BYU.  My five year old was an ANGEL!  (She also did really well at the Nutcracker ballet when she was a few months shy of turning four.)   I think that children, even young ones (ages 4-6), can do very well at live events (concerts, plays, shows, etc.) IF;

  1. They are given expectations ahead of time.
  2. They are given background information (this music was used in that movie, or remember when we saw this picture, here are some more like it).
  3. They are given things to look for/listen to.
  4. They are taken to things that are relatively age appropriate.
  5. We remember their specific limitations. (For example, my two year old wasn’t an angel at the art museum, but it was during her nap time, after all).

Here are some ideas about expectations for different events.

Art Museums

Rules at art museums are in place to ensure that the art is kept in good condition and so that patrons can quietly meditate.  Often art has a spiritual or religious nature to it or it has been created to understand/process a difficult topic.

  • Quiet voices.
  • Follow the posted rules and guidelines.
  • Don’t TOUCH the art!
  • Typically no food, drink, gum, etc.
  • Usually no photography (flashes can damage some paintings).
  • Children should stay with parent/guardians the entire time (no running around, etc.)
  • Be aware of others around you – respect their space.
  • Ask me lots of questions 🙂 I’ll often stand with my girls and ask them to tell me what they see, or ask them to look for things.  For example –pick your favorite piece of art and tell me why you like it.
  • If I don’t know the answer, and as they get older I’m sure I won’t, we’ll ask the attendant/curators questions.

Concerts –

Typically classical music performances are more formal than other musical concerts (rock, country music, etc.), but an understanding of the etiquette guidelines will help concert goers to feel comfortable.  Help your child to understand that the performers have worked really hard (put in hours of practice) to get ready for the performance.

  • Dress – typically dress at a concert is formal to semi-formal (think of how one would dress when going to church, synagogue or place of worship).
  • Arrive and find your seat five to ten minutes early. An usher will help you find your place.  Quiet conversation is fine until the lights dim. If you arrive late, you will not be allowed to enter until intermission.
  • Program – You are usually given a program.  Though these are FULL of advertisements, there are usually some very helpful and educational program notes that are worth reading.
  • Stay in your seats – unless there is an emergency.  There is usually an intermission in which you can get up, stretch, use the facilities, etc.
  • No talking during the performance.  Also no cell phones, texting, eating, drinking, popping gum, etc. (Basically, show respect to the performers and those around you.)
  • Clapping – Usually after a performance there is a quiet moment in which all enjoy the magic of what just occurred.  Then the audience claps, sometimes shouts “bravo”, and at times gives a standing ovation when the work was particularly good.  Follow the audience as to appropriate times to clap (sometimes there are pauses between pieces (movements) when the audience does not clap).
  • Outdoor “Pops” Concerts – these concerts are less formal (dress is more casual, picnicking is sometimes allowed) but good manners are still expected.

Shows – Musicals, Operas, Ballet –

The rules are typically the same for these performances as those for a concert.   Again –

  • Make sure that the content is appropriate (will it be entertaining for the child?)
  • Make sure that the length is appropriate (shows can last for two or more hours.  Very young children fidget after 10 minutes. )
  • Introduce the children to the subject matter/story ahead of time – help them understand the story, listen to the music, give them things to look for.
  • A great idea is to show DVD/Video performances ahead of time, so that your children are familiar with the content.
  • Often there will be special children friendly performances which will be shorter or geared toward the kids.  Look out for these.

Introducing children to cultural activities is beneficial to your child, your family, and society because it gives them;

  • Appreciation for things of beauty and culture.
  • Manners – the realization that there are codes of behavior – ways to act that are appropriate in different situations.
  • Dressing up and going to an event makes kids feel special.  It’s exciting and fun!
  • An understanding that there are many wonderful and beautiful things in the world.
  • Hopefully in our fast-paced society, it will give them moments to stop and reflect quietly.  (Children need time learn to think.  I loved driving around in the car as a young girl, my parents would play classical music, and I would look out the windows and just think.)

It’s worth the time and effort to help your children learn to appreciate cultural events!

*Modern albumen print from wet plate collodion negative by Mathew Brady Studio. Taken with permission from Flicker with CC license by Cliff1066.

Composers, Music, Uncategorized

Ombra Mai Fu and Water Music – AHH Handel

For Joyce –

I actually hadn’t heard of Ombra Mai Fu, and had to do some research (so thank you, because I found a new favorite).  It is is the opening aria from the 1738 opera Serse by George Frideric Handel and is quite lovely.  I don’t think they sound too similar, but then again, some of his work seems, at times, repetitive (forgive me, Handel).

I just wanted to post three more selections from Handel, in honor of  Joyce.

Ombra Mai Fu – This is Dmitri Hvorostovsky in Cardiff 1989, bad video quality and it cuts off abruptly, but it’s a little taste and WHAT a voice!

Water Music – Performed by The King’s Consort and Conducted by Robert King

Finally, if you don’t have time for anything else – THIS is worth a listen and a watch.

Music for the Royal Fireworks – From the Queen’s Jubilee Concerts, Buckingham Palace(2002) conducted by Andrew Davis.


Top Ten Opera Favorites

I think that Opera gets such a bad wrap!  It can be so beautiful and powerful when sung correctly.  It takes so much talent and vocal power to sing like that.

As I was finding the music for this post, my two year old was on my lap and she wanted to hear the Hansel and Gretel over and over again.  So we’ll begin with that one.

1. Abendsegen or Evening Prayer from Engelbert Humperdinck’s  (I know, I love the name too!) Opera Hansel and Gretel, first performed in December 1893.  The Opera is in German, but the one here is in English.  I chose this version, because it was my little daughter’s favorite.

2. Der Hölle Rache or the Queen of the Night Aria from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  Another favorite song from this Opera is the Papageno-Papagena duet (my daughters really love it).  This version is Erika Miklosa’s performance, and while  she looks a bit creepy singing into the camera, the character is crazy and creepy.  More importantly, her voice is SO beautiful.

3. O Soave Fanciulla or Oh Gentle Maiden from Giacomo Puccini’s beautiful La Bohème, probably one of the most well known Operas worldwide.  The entire opera is worth a listen. The last few notes of this piece almost always make me cry, no matter the rendition.  This performance was Live from Berlin 7 July 2006, and the entire concert (The Berlin Concert: Live from the Waldbuhne) can be purchased on Amazon –  here.

Anna Netrebko is fast becoming my favorite and I really enjoyed Rolando Villazon.

4. The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves by Guiseppe Verdi found in his Opera Nabucco. I thought that this performance was particularly touching.  The tempo and power with which it is sung, and the photographs from the opera are fantastic.

5. Flower Duet from Leo Delibe’s  Opera Lakme. All I know about the concert is that it is from Baden Baden in 2007, sung by Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca.  This duet is heavenly.

6. In the early 90’s as an impressionable teenager, I saw the movie A Room with a View (1985) and there was a scene when Lucy Honeychurch is walking through a tall wheat field, and this man, George Emerson, that she has just met grabs her and kisses her.  It was a moment that has stayed with me for years.  The scene was set to Giacomo Puccini’s  Chi il bel sogno di Doretta from his Opera  La Rondine. Though this performance is dated (1982) it is sung so superbly by Leontyne Price.

7. Another song, used in that movie was O Mio Babinno Caro or Oh my Dear Papa, from Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. This performance is  Norwegian soprano, Sissel Kyrkjebø singing the aria  from her 2002 DVD concert All Good Things.

8. Sempre Libera from Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata. This is again Anna Netrebko & Rolando Villazónin concert at the 2005 Saltzberg Festival.  The performance has a very interesting modern set and costume design, which you may or may not like.  I have always loved the Tenor part singing from offstage.

9. Au Fond Du Temple Saint a duet from George Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers. This is one of the reasons that I love to hear men sing.  Listen to the beauty and power of this duet.  Eric Cutler and Nathan Gunn are the performers in this 2008 production in Chicago.


Here is a more complete performance (see comments on this post) –  Jonas Kaufmann and Dmitri Hvorostovsky sing in a 12/16/08 concert in Moscow.


10. The Master of Opera, Luciano Pavarotti and the song of all songs – Nessun Dorma, from Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot. There is nothing like it, this is the reason that I fell in love with opera.  Just listen to the final notes – phenomenal!

A final shout out goes to Britain’s Got Talent’s 2007 winner Paul Potts.  This video is truly brilliant.  They all think that he is going to tank as he begins to perform Nessun Dorma. The look on the faces of the judges and audience members is priceless.