I spent part of yesterday listening to an “unofficial” recording of the concert version of Alcina that I heard last fall in New York. This was a different performance – I know this not because I have the auditory equivalent of a photographic memory, but because the horn flub in “Sta nell’Ircana” was a slightly different sort of flub – but it had the same strengths as the performance that I saw. I’m pretty sure this was recorded on someone’s phone because of how the applause sounds (claps are right there by the microphone). It’s striking how differently a microphone and a human set of ears pick up sound in an auditorium, even when placed at pretty much the same spot – the voices sound echoey and a little distorted, like the sound is being pulled at the edges, and the loudest moments push the boundaries of the mike. The orchestra, oddly enough, sounds much more natural. The whole thing left me wishing they’d collect all these people in a studio and make a recording (or that there would be an official one of one of the live performances!) but I am not holding my breath. Also that Apple or Samsung or whoever made the phone that I am assuming is the source of this thing needs to step up their game, microphone wise, if they want to be The Phone that opera maniacs use to surreptitiously use to record concerts. Imagine if your iPhone 6 came with a little opera app that was of course solely for the use of recording private opera performances in your home?
I guess the problem is that phones generally have line-out jacks for headphones, but not a line-in that you could hook a small but better quality microphone to, unless the charger/USB plug could be used for such purposes – data can clearly travel along it to the phone, after all. I’m thinking one could just tuck the phone into top of one’s shirt, or a blazer pocket or something, wear a big scarf and have the microphone poking out somewhere. Provided one didn’t move too much, it might work.
We can add this idea to the list of Ways You Can Get Banned From Carnegie Hall. I think it comes right after You Saw The Ricola Dispensers And Started Filling Up Your Bag By the Handful and You Rushed The Stage During Natalie Dessay’s Encore.