The first act of which opera is sometimes received with silence rather than applause?
Premiered at the Festival Theatre in Bayreuth in 1882, "Parsifal" was the last work of Richard Wagner (1813-1833).
It is based on the medieval legend of Parsifal (variant spelling: "Parzival") and especially on the version of it written by Wolfram von Eschenbach, and concerns the so-called "Pure Fool" of the title, who sets off on a quest for the Holy Grail in penance for shooting a swan. In the Wagnerian universe, as also demonstrated in "Lohengrin", shooting swans is a serious offence - all the more so, as this takes place in a sacred wood where the knights of the grail are meeting, hoping for a miracle cure for their ailing king, Amfortas. At first Our Hero merely proudly points out that he is a good shot, but sees the error of his ways and departs on his quest.
Act One ends with a ritual decidedly resembling a Communion Service, and Wagner himself preferred to call the work a ""Buehnenweihefestspiel" - "Festival Stage Play of Consecration" - than an opera.
But that said, he was not the originator of this tradition, still widely practised at the Bayreuth Festival, and merely said that given the serious nature of the work, he preferred there to be no curtain calls at this juncture. In fact, anecdotally, he made worried enquiries as to whether people had liked it or not!