Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Message From Peter Gelb, And A Message To Peter Gelb

On August 22nd I received the following email from the Metropolitan Opera. It was followed by a hard copy sent by mail of the same letter.

"Dear Subscriber:
Monday, August 11, was a frustrating day for opera lovers who came to the box office for the first day of our priority period for subscribers and patrons. We should have done a better job communicating new information about the more limited availability of tickets for exchange. Because you and our other subscribers are a vital part of the company, I would like to apologize for the inconvenience this caused.
Four seasons ago, the Met introduced instant ticket exchanges, an unusual measure begun at a time when subscriptions were faltering and ticket sales declining. Now that the company is beginning to thrive again at the box office, such a policy is difficult to sustain. Since we want our subscribers to be happy, some exchanges continue to be available. We've also added the opportunity for subscribers and patrons to buy single tickets before the general public.
I am proud that the Met is doing more for opera lovers than ever before—including numerous free public events, a rush–ticket program, more new productions, and our transmissions into movie theaters, on public television, and on the radio.
I appreciate that many of you have taken the time to share your thoughts, and I regret the confusion that took place on August 11. We are working to make sure that next season things will run much more smoothly and are very grateful for your loyalty and passionate interest in the Met.
Thank you.

Peter Gelb
General Manager"

I was not at the Met on this apparently very "frustrating day." I'm glad I wasn't there, from what I hear it was an absolute nightmare!

However, I didn't post this letter to complain about the situation on August 11th. I'm posting this letter in response to the new ticket exchange program for subscribers.
I was so grateful to have an exchange program like the Met's. It made everything easy and I got to see every opera that I could possibly want! I didn't want to see War and Peace? That's fine, I can see La Traviata instead! (hypothetical) It was also great for new subscribers, or people new to opera. They (probably) have no idea the importance of Eugene Onegin, but they know all about La Boheme! So they can see that instead. It was a wonderful process, but it was changed this season.
This season there is an exchange fee and you can't exchange your tickets online. You must exchange by mail or in person at the box office. I guess the free online exchange

I did some research and here's what I came up with :
(these are just the opera houses I researched, other opera houses may have different policies

Opera Houses Without Exchange Programs
Teatro La Fenice
Teatro Alla Scala
Teatro Real
Mariinsky Theatre

Opera Houses With Exchange Fees
Lyric Opera of Chicago
Royal Opera House

Opera Houses With Free Ticket Exchange
Washington National Opera (first two exchanges are free)
Gran Teatro del Liceu

Note: None of these opera houses let you exchange online.

I guess we're lucky to have an exchange program at all, but let's face it those opera houses don't have the assortment of operas to choose from like the Met does. At the Met you don't get all the operas in one subscription, you get 6-8 out of 24 operas. So, isn't the Met a special case?
I could just be an annoying whiner, but I'm sure other people share my views.
Thanks for listening to my ramblings.

Happy Listening!!! =)

1 comment:

Gert said...

I can't speak about the other houses but I think you're comparing apples and oranges when it comes to the Met and Covent Garden.

I understand the Met thing was all about subscriptions, where people end up buying a package including things they don't want, in order to get things they do want (correct me if I have misunderstood).

At Covent Garden, you just buy tickets for what you do want, for the night you think you want it.

Because the booking is so far in advance - December was booking in June - obviously, you can't know what else is going to crop up. So, exchange is where you surrender your tickets and instead of cash you get tickets for something - anything you want as long as booking has opened and it hasn't sold out.

If you return tickets and they manage to resell them, you get the cash money price back less a small admin fee (although they always stress that they can't guarantee resale, I can work out the likelihood of resale).

I understand that if you return tickets to the Met, you don't get your money back.