The London papers seem to be falling over themselves to report booing and shouts of “rubbish” at the opera and classical concerts. Is it such a big deal? I’m much less bothered about how people express their opinion than when they do. I find intrusive applause far more annoying than displeasure at the end of a piece. I know there’s a tradition of applauding individual arias in certain kinds of opera and I can live with it without actually liking it much but applauding scenery is strictly for rubes and applauding the triumphal march in Aida should be a hanging offence, especially if it’s a totally lame version like the Met’s. Similarly, shouting “rubbish” during the action is inconsiderate to others and should be eschewed as should conversation, rustling sweet papers, coughing and, as experienced at one Met in HD broadcast, fortissimo intestinal eructations. Shouting “rubbish” at the end is, as far as I am concerned, as legitimate as shouting “brava” though not perhaps to be indulged in lightly. Certainly it shows more engagement with the performers than the usual band of people scurrying to be the first to the parking lot the second the curtain comes down. Overt disapproval might even stimulate open debate about some of the more controversial productions though reviving traditions such as breaking the furniture over those one disagrees with might perhaps be too robust for today’s, typically elderly, audiences.