Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ovation for over 15 minutes

"Ovation" is defined as "an enthusiastic public reception of a person, marked especially by loud and prolonged applause".  What was the duration of the longest standing ovation you have ever seen or heard?  For a program that lasted for one hour and thirty minutes?  Three minutes?  Five minutes?  Seven minutes?  Ten minutes?  .....

We were witnesses for a standing ovation for over fifteen minutes at the end of a ballet performance in Opera D Bastille, Paris, France  (picture of the building is given below).  It was still continuing when we left the Bastille auditorium and actually do not know the exact duration for which it lasted!
Clapping and acknowledging some good effort is a common feature in functions and performances. All over the world  leaders, artistes, sports persons or performers of any kind get encouraged when they receive clapping, applause or an ovation.  A standing ovation is a higher form of acknowledgement of a job well done or a distinction truly earned. An extended applause or a long ovation is indeed an excellent tonic for performers and spurs them to even better efforts in subsequent shows. For a real and dedicated  artiste, appreciation of his or her effort by a mature and knowledgeable audience is worth even more than the financial rewards a show brings.  Politicians thrive on the applause and ovations of their followers.  That the ovation given to them is by a hired or hijacked audience matters little to such leaders.  An ovation is an ovation for them!  It is not uncommon to hear clapping even before some start their speech or performance.  Such applause may be to prevent the beginning of the ordeal or bring an abrupt end to a painful performance.  Thick skinned as they are, such performers(?) would  have tuned themselves to carry on with their act unmindful of whether the gathering really wants it or not. 

We can hear muted clapping in many functions and such applause by a handful of persons among a big gathering is often embarrassing.  Untimely appreciation by a small section of the crowd creates an awkward situation instead of enthusing the performers.  People sitting through the length of the programs leave the hall minutes before the performance ends, showing scant respect for the efforts of the performers.  In many shows or performances, especially the ones like ballet, drama etc., the artistes are called upon the stage at the end of the show.  Any artiste or backstage support staff member has a right to be introduced to the audience in every show.  After all, the show is a result and end product of  days and months of the hard work by these very people.  Their importance is known to the Producer or Director of the show.  Even if one of them is missing half an hour before the show begins, they may even have a heart attack.  Audience, especially in parts of our country, need to appreciate their importance and contributions by giving a befitting ovation to these artistes.  This should be so irrespective of the likes or dislikes of the individual audience.

The city of Paris, capital of France, is one of the most vibrant cultural centers in the world. Bastille Opera House in Paris is one of the centers dedicated for performing arts.  The place "Bastille" has its own history.  A fort was constructed at this place in the 13th-14th century to protect the eastern part of the city of Paris from the enemies. (Picture of the fort as it existed before storming is given alongside).  The fort was converted into a prison during the time of Louie XIII.  The jail housed about 50 prisoners at a time.  In course of time, this fort prison was used by the ruling elite to curb activities of any nature which was considered by them as against the persons in authority.  When the patience of the oppressed people ran out, they stormed the Bastille fort.  Storming and destroying of the Bastille fort prison happened on 14th July 1789.  This started the famous "French Revolution" and the entire fort was destroyed during the next four months.  14th July is observed as "National day of France" since then.  It is a public holiday and a tradition has developed now to honor the martyrs on that day.

A beautiful building complex has been constructed at the place where the destroyed Bastille fort stood and it was inaugurated on 13th July, 1989. A metro station located at the basement of the building makes visiting the culture center a pleasant experience.  Its main auditorium has 2,703 acoustically consistent seats.  Its stage facilities are considered unique.  The integrated scenery, costume and accessory workshops, as well as its numerous work areas and rehearsal rooms make the Opera Bastille a great modern theater. Its orchestra pit can accommodate as many as 130 musicians and can be covered.  It is mobile and adjustable.  The main stage area is 45 meter high and 30 meter wide.  Its 25 meter depth provides comfort for stage managers to experiment innovation using the scenery turntable.  The stage has 9 elevators which is used in creation of several levels in the shows and the three main elevators fetch the required scenery up from below stage.  Scenery can be stored temporarily between the stage, workshops and rehearsal stage.

Our host in Paris had painstakingly reserved seats for us for a show in this auditorium on 13th July 2008, which was the 19th anniversary of the inauguration of the building and the eve of the "Revolution Day".  The show was titled "Signes" in French, meaning "Signs" in English.  It was a wonderful show and the standing ovation given to the Director and artistes lasted for over fifteen minutes.  The show itself  was wonderful in concept, design and on-stage execution.  As this piece has already become lengthy, it will be covered in another blog post titled "Painter meets Musician". 


  1. A very informative post on Opera Bastille.
    Well written.

  2. Loved reading it...interesting and informative as usual

  3. Interesting Informative article as usual..

  4. The history of countries like France are all full of how much torture and pain people have suffered.

  5. very nice narration of such unique moment

  6. There is something special about an audience in Paris - be it at a concert, at a museum or even at the corner of a train station (remember the classical orchestra at Chatelet station? There is no stinginess when it comes to appreciation of the Arts.

  7. Very much informative and neatly written.

  8. Enchanting narration. Felt as if I am in Paris seating in the Theatre to witness a show.
    Thank u for the forward.