Went to the ballet last night-- it was a fabulous production of La Dame aux camélias at the Opéra Garnier. The book, by Alexandre Dumas fils, tells the story of a courtesan who gives up her glittering life for her young lover, then gives him up too after his father appeals to her good will, pretending to him that she is leaving for gain so that he will not follow her. At the end of the story, she dies and he discovers the truth. The ballet is a fairly recent one, by American John Neumaier in 1978, and he was present at the curtain call.
The ballet was set in a traditional way with gorgeous costumes. All the dancers were so beautiful-- it must be a requirement! And it was beautifully danced. The audience called out Bravo! Bravo! over and over again and people in the boxes threw bouquets of flowers onto the stage. There were several curtain calls and as you can see, some people were so enthusiastic they raised their hands above their heads to clap.
But no one stood up. In France, standing ovations are reserved for the truly extraordinary, not the merely excellent. In the U.S., where in two years I never attended a single show of any kind that did not receive a standing ovation, from high school performances to ballet to opera to off-Broadway plays, it seems to have become rude not to give one.