25 August 2007


How easy it is to critique, but it's actually just as easy to say thanks: Sieglinde is here, now, in full face, to thank Met General Manager Peter Gelb for lowering the price of my admission to the opera. Seats in the balcony and family circle boxes, $26 and $21 two years ago, have been $15 for weekday performances since Gelb took the majestic helm. (I could hear bravos! from the family circle as well, which has seen a similar delightful plunge from $26 to $15.) Thank you, Mr. Gelb. I'd like to say that I'm a few bucks wealthier every night I'm at the opera, but it turns out that I'm parlaying the difference on more nights at the opera.

Or, more accurately, more planned nights. Since the Met has opened up all tickets to the entire season for sale, this has meant looking far ahead through the ice of winter and out into spring of '08, and projecting how I would feel about two Bohemes here and a Clemenza there (after persisting through a stack of Walkueres and Tristans). Nevermind creating possible conflicts with work and friends' birthdays and influenza (and that human curse of fatigue): the relentless buzz generated by the Gelb marketing machine, and a bit ironically the lowered cheap seat prices, have the potential to sell out more evenings and thereby dare operaddicts to buy a larger bulk of tickets than usual, more than a month before Dessay flirts with "Regnava nel silencio" (in her own cold way) on opening night. I doubt that I will make it to all my 50+ evenings.

Undeniably, all these innovations have been designed to sell more tickets, earlier and faster. (Witness the crowds on that fateful Sunday, and another record broken.) Adding the upper side boxes into the subscription rolls, and conjuring more mini-subscription combinations, are two other reasons for the increase in sales--albeit minor, these affect Sieglinde and Lois most significantly. That increased demand causes further increase in demand isn't foreign to me (my research sometimes deals with such beautiful differential equations): I bow to these natural cycles with reverence: I admire the textbook skills of the MBAs who have conjured the conditions for it; I'm suspicious, but remain secretly hopeful; I watch the clock as it marks the gray hours that lie listlessly between now and that time when I turn my ticket in and enter the darkness, shut up, and listen awestruck to that wounding sound come from the soprano's soul.

But yeah, thank you, Peter Gelb.