If I just was late and missed the first half, I probably would just kick myself and forget about it. Berlioz is certainly far from my favorite composer anyways and as far as the music is concerned I don't care that I missed it. If it was a Bach passion I would not have missed it..But, here's what made me uncomfortable. First, I don't think there was a "buffer" piece. I wasn't very late and they were already well into it. They knew that many people would be late because the 520 bridge was up. Literally dozens of people missed half of the performance. The orchestra starts and stops on their own schedule so I don't blame them for not waiting. But...during the third act, this very loud alarm type noise started wailing. Staff were running around trying to figure out what it was. It persisted through the whole act, and Morlot, and then the soloists, walked offstage at the end and would not commence with the final act until it stopped. It took them 30? 45? minutes to figure out what was going on (an old deaf lady's panic button went off, and she could not hear it. somehow no one else sitting around her did anything. (what kind of enjoyment does a deaf women get out of going to the symphony? not my business)). Ok, so I basically got to watch the last act, by which time I didn't really care about the performance.
My point? I was a few minutes late and basically saw 30 minutes of performance. Of course, its not the orchestra's or the conductor's fault. They are just responsible for playing the music. It's not the fault of Benaroya Hall that dozens of people were late, or that some old lady pushed her panic button, and sure, they are not required to have a sophisticated playback for latecomers. But, aren't they responsible, in some way, for our experience? To provide a platform for an orchestra that allows the fullest delivery of their artistic force, and to make sure the patrons are happy and well catered to so we continue providing our patronage? I can choose another airline. I can go home and listen to my playback. If I buy a concert ticket that costs more than the cost of an airline ticket, and want them to at least show me that they care enough about my enjoyment to put me in an empty seat at next performance. I got nothing. After the musicians, where does the cost of my ticket go? To pay the dozens of staff that mill around and do nothing to enhance my experience?
Its fantastic that in the 21st century we can still see live orchestral music performed in every major city. We are privileged to attend performances, and transcendental experience through music is worth any price a high caliber orchestra demands. But, the concert halls should feel privileged to have patrons that attend concerts there, to have people that still want to experience music that most people stopped listening to 100 years ago.
Is this valid or am I just whining?
Of course we do ourselves a favor when we set higher standards for ourselves instead of demanding it of others, ie, not being late as opposed to being late and blaming others for your misery, but I think I have some small justification to whine. Sure, don't be late. If you're late for a job interview, you won't get the job, if you're late for a plane, you miss it. But, they generally just put you in an empty spot on the next flight. There is some sort of small guarantee of satisfaction. The airport isn't responsible for your punctuality, the airport personnel will not move you through the security line faster if you moan about your flight that leaves in 5 minutes, but the airline will generally accommodate your situation because you chose to buy an expensive ticket on their airline instead of the many others and they want your continued patronage.