Anyone who has been to the theatre in London recently might be tempted to agree with Jeremy Clarke in The Spectator:
The same thing has happened in the theatre, I suppose, as has happened to Premiership football. Charge £40 for a seat and you’re going to attract people with softer hands and cleaner arseholes but who are much less outgoing. Premiership grounds that used to be seething cauldrons of humanity now have less atmosphere than a county library. And instead of the magic of the performers feeding on the collective, often irrational consciousness of a celebratory theatre crowd, you’ve now got actors singing for their supper in front of row upon row of wealthy stiffs.
It was a very odd experience to watch professional actors giving it everything they’ve got, going through the entire range of human emotion from anger to sexual passion, whilst the audience sat there as if it was drawn from a more highly evolved biological species.
Classical music audiences are even worse. I used to review concerts for my student newspaper. In the line of duty I once attended a particularly brilliant concert consisting of works from of Beethoven and Shostokovich. The Beethoven (symphony 5) was played as if there really was no tomorrow and the Shostokovich quartets were drenched in Slavic sorrow but the audience just didn’t seem to notice. One of the bastards insisted on whispering through the quiet parts. On asking a few people at the interval what they’d thought of the programme so far the most enthusiasm I could find was “very nice”.
It’s a sad fact that so often attending “cultural events” is a way of attempting to show you are “cultured”.
I know that it’s these people’s money that keeps music live for those who actually enjoy it before anyone feels the need to point that out, but it would be nice to attend a concert in the company of those who truly appreciate the performance rather than those who are entertaining clients or keeping up with their neighbours.