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10 November 2022, 08:54
Covent Garden said it was “appalled” by the behaviour of a heckler who disrupted the opening night performance of a 12-year-old singer in Handel’s ‘Alcina’.
Malakai M Bayoh was on the Covent Garden stage, debuting in the role of Oberto in the opera. The young singer was performing an aria in the second act, when the audience member, sitting in the house’s amphitheater began to heckle.
Before the end of his aria, as Bayoh exited the stage, the man shouted “rubbish” and loudly booed.
After initial gasps in disbelief at the outburst, the opera house quickly erupted in loud and sustained cheering and applause for the young singer.
Bayoh returned to the stage later in the opera, singing Handel’s virtuosic arias superbly, and completing a performance that has already been lauded by other audience members and music critics.
The disruptive audience member is believed to have left the auditorium later in Act 2.
On Wednesday, the Royal Opera House condemned the heckling and booing of the young singer, saying that the audience member will be permanently banned from the Covent Garden theatre.
“Unfortunately, the opening night of Alcina featured an audience member who disrupted the show and the excellent performance by young singer Malakai M Bayoh,” the ROH said in a tweet.
“We are appalled that a member of the audience behaved in this way and steps have been taken to ensure the audience member in question does not return to the Royal Opera House.”
Malakai M Bayoh is a pupil at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in West London. In last night’s performance he was singing alongside famed singers of the opera world including Cuban-American soprano Lisette Oropesa, Canadian mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo and English soprano Mary Bevan.
In Handel’s opera, Oberto is a young boy who is searching for, and finds, his father, Astolfo, who had mysteriously disappeared.
If the thunderous reception at the Covent Garden curtain calls are any indication, last night the young singer also found thousands of audience members enchanted by his singing, and fervent in their praise.