Wednesday’s Wisdom

A fascinating article on JSTOR by Amelia Soth on the “claqueurs” in the audience of the Paris Opera of the early 19th century.  By day a professional mourner, a female claqueur (or is that claqueuse?) would bestow carefully orchestrated weeping fits at strategic points in an opera.  A professional claquer would applaud thunderously.  Guided by chief claqueur August Levasseur, the staged applause, weeping, and bravos! were designed to guide opera patrons, to mold the tastes of a new, bourgeois audience.  Singers could slip Levasseur money and gifts so that he could ensure they got especially loud applause. The article even shows a photo of claqueurs in the early 20th century.  Great stuff.  

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