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penelopesimpson

What Trick did I Miss with La Forza?

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Heartbroken not to get a ticket.  Okay, I admit I am not a Friend but...

Nothing in packages on first day of booking, otherthan Amphi which I can’t do

Never mind, I thought, I’ll surely be able get one seat when General Booking opens.

 

So, there I am, coffee cooling, dog waiting to go out, Piggy Bank emptied and  credit card poised and, guess what, the website won’t function.

Still, must be the same for everyone I reasoned but when I finally gained access at 09.28 -

Nada. Rien. Nothing.

 

So, what went on?  Are some people’s websites more equal than others or were there never any tickets unless you were a Friend?

 

 

Edited by penelopesimpson

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I have no idea, but you are not the only person to be asking the question.

 

I must admit that I was quite astonished that they didn't seem to impose any per-person ticket limits on this production - though that would not have had any impact on how many tickets should have been held for release on general public booking day.

 

I should however remind you that if you keep a keen eye open, you should find in a few weeks' time that some additional seats in rows B and C of the Stalls Circle and Balcony are released (the loose seats they make available once they've given wheelchair users a fair chance at booking the spaces) and there is never an announcement that this has happened, meaning you shouldn't be in direct competition with thousands of other people for them at one defined moment, as long as you keep looking.

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Is there anything particularly amazing about it?  As I've mentioned elsewhere, I don't really read the opera stuff any more now there's no hard copy.

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Jonas Kaufmann and Anna Netrebko, mainly (although neither of them is on every night).

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Jonas had me thinking ofasecond mortgage

Nerebko convinced me!

 

This is one stupendous combo.  I don’t mind missing out from a level playing field but something strange seems to have gone on here.  I didn’t realise there were no restrictions on numbers of seats that could be purchased.  Kaufman’s Othello had restrictions.  Perhaps that explains why there are so many forsale on secondary sites.

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38 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

 

This is one stupendous combo.  I don’t mind missing out from a level playing field but something strange seems to have gone on here.  I didn’t realise there were no restrictions on numbers of seats that could be purchased.  Kaufman’s Othello had restrictions.  Perhaps that explains why there are so many forsale on secondary sites.

 

if you see tickets for sale on secondary sites - especially at inflated prices - report them to the ROH

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1 hour ago, penelopesimpson said:

Perhaps that explains why there are so many forsale on secondary sites.

 

Very sorry to hear you were not able to get a ticket.  Hopefully there will be some returns and other seats made available at some point - although it’s pot luck whether you’re on the website when tickets pop up.  I know it’s in the cinema which is great but there’s nothing like being in the theatre.

 

But I’m very concerned by what you say about secondary sites and the implication that Friends might purchase tickets specifically for resale.  Is this a known issue?  I’d have thought like the Ring there’s just tremendous demand for such performances but I have no idea if tickets were available on other sites for the recent Ring.

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The Ring was expected to be popular and had a limit of four whole-cycle tickets per booker.

 

Forza should have been expected to be popular too, and therefore the lack of such a limit was extremely surprising.  However, even without one, I would have expected there to be the usual proportion of tickets for all dates only released at the point when general public booking opened.

 

It certainly appears that the ROH has changed something.  In the past the Friends office have advised me that they keep an eye on touting behaviour and take action where necessary - all bookings are, after all, traceable.  If I, as a member of the Friends of ROH, were to advertise tickets X and Y at vastly inflated price on a third-party site, I would certainly expect a stern letter telling me I've breached the T&Cs of membership and revoking said membership forthwith.  Hence, as most of us do here, I only book tickets which I and my usual companions are reasonably expecting to use, and should I find I can no longer use one, I advertise it at face value among my peers, or return it to the box office.

 

 

Edited by RuthE
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Also, I have seen it suggested elsewhere (Twitter) that the failure of the ROH website yesterday morning had the hallmarks of a cyber attack by bots feeding touting agencies.  I have no idea how likely this is, but if true, it would mean the tickets WERE saved by the ROH for the general public, and got maliciously snaffled.

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5 hours ago, penelopesimpson said:

 

 

So, what went on?  Are some people’s websites more equal than others or were there never any tickets unless you were a Friend?

 

 

 

The Netrebko/Kaufmann/Tezier castings were pretty much sold out before even the Friends booking period opened.  I'm a Friend+ and it was a bunfight for those nights even then.  I actually ended up booking two tickets as I booked the first seat I could, then managed to get a better seat shortly after (and then spent over an hour on hold to return the first ticket).  Definitely sold out before general packages/ general booking as I've popped back every so often to see if I can get a better seat.

 

 

 

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At least one person seems to have got a ticket, although it sounds as if the process was gruelling:

 

 

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Firstly, I did not mean to imply that Friends or indeed anyone else had put their tickets up for resale,although it seems fairly obvious that the bulk of these tickets must have come from the Friends booking period.  It is not my job to make reports to the Box Office, but it is the job of Box Office to see that tickets are sold fairly and appropriately.   ROH can surely not help but be aware how many tickets are currently on sale on one well-known site.  I have just taken a look and can tell you there are 82 tickets for the Kaufmann/Netrebko dates.  The cheapest Stalls I could find is £658 and prices go up to £3,900 - that is per ticket.  Even Ampitheatre is going for £1855 on the first night.

 

Annoying though this is, it is not my primary concern.  What I want to know is why I and others like me appear not to have ever stood any chance of getting any tickets.  All performances were marked Sold Out when Packages booking opened which I thought odd.  What was even more odd was that the website 'went down' at 0900 and yet, apparently, enough people were able to access tickets so the whole thing was sold out in a few minutes.  As ROH were aware they had website problems, (they responded almost immediately to my Tweet) surely the fairest thing would have been to hold back sales until the site was fully functioning so that everyone had a chance?    I am even more surprised to learn that there was no limit on purchases of these particular performances.  How can this possibly be fair?  Kaufmann's Othello was severely restricted and I don't think it was even available in the Packages and that is how it should have been this time around.

 

Has something dodgy gone on here or have ROH just made a massive blunder?  Perhaps if they spent less time demonstrating their inclusivity with dull cafes and dumbed down interiors and instead concentrated on providing decent access to tickets, things would be better.

 

I am going to seek some answers.  Not getting a ticket is one thing (Jonas will live without me!), but realising that I never stood any chance of getting one is quite another.

Edited by penelopesimpson
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4 hours ago, onemouseplace said:

 

The Netrebko/Kaufmann/Tezier castings were pretty much sold out before even the Friends booking period opened.  I'm a Friend+ and it was a bunfight for those nights even then.  I actually ended up booking two tickets as I booked the first seat I could, then managed to get a better seat shortly after (and then spent over an hour on hold to return the first ticket).  Definitely sold out before general packages/ general booking as I've popped back every so often to see if I can get a better seat.

 

 

 

I read your post with interest, not knowing much about how the Friends system works.  Who would the tickets have been sold to if they were already gone when the Friends booking opened?  I had understood that there were quotas of tickets released for each different level of patron including us proles at the bottom under General Public?  Is this not the case?

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4 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

  Kaufmann's Othello was severely restricted and I don't think it was even available in the Packages and that is how it should have been this time around.

 

I begin to wonder whether there's been a change in personnel or procedure: it seemed so obvious to me that a limit would be imposed that I didn't even bother checking.

 

Kaufmann's recent/current Fidelio in Munich had a two ticket limit: I'd like to see that at ROH for the most popular productions, as I think the four ticket limit they occasionally impose is over-generous and unfair when demand is so high.

 

One thing though: Otello was definitely available in the packages, I remember it clearly (though I didn't buy one) as their unusual popularity that booking period had an effect on availability for the very short run of Mitridate.

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I am sure you are right, Lizbie.  I think I got my facts wrong.  But I can hardly believe that there was no limit on Forza.  Does this mean people could have bought blocks of seats?  Like yourself, it never occurred to me to ask, I just assumed.

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6 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

I read your post with interest, not knowing much about how the Friends system works.  Who would the tickets have been sold to if they were already gone when the Friends booking opened?  I had understood that there were quotas of tickets released for each different level of patron including us proles at the bottom under General Public?  Is this not the case?

 

There was certainly some availability for (vanilla) Friends booking as I bought one, though I was quick off the mark.

 

For the truly desperate with deep pockets, the Spring edition of the Friends magazine offered special opening night tickets to include a post-performance dinner with the cast etc: "Tickets start at £1,400". Maybe some are still available, you never know!

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1 minute ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

There was certainly some availability for (vanilla) Friends booking as I bought one, though I was quick off the mark.

 

For the truly desperate with deep pockets, the Spring edition of the Friends magazine offered special opening night tickets to include a post-performance dinner with the cast etc: "Tickets start at £1,400". Maybe some are still available, you never know!

Are you offering??????!!!!!!!!!!

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2 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

But I can hardly believe that there was no limit on Forza.  Does this mean people could have bought blocks of seats?  Like yourself, it never occurred to me to ask, I just assumed.

 

I don't know, but a clever tout would surely see buying high-level membership as a wise investment if it were the case.

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Just now, penelopesimpson said:

Are you offering??????!!!!!!!!!!

 

Over my dead body :)

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On 01/02/2019 at 15:09, RuthE said:

Forza should have been expected to be popular too, and therefore the lack of such a limit was extremely surprising.  However, even without one, I would have expected there to be the usual proportion of tickets for all dates only released at the point when general public booking opened.

 

Does anyone know if the ROH is supposed to keep a proportion (is it 20% or am I misremembering?) of seats to be released for general booking for Linbury productions as well as for the main house ones? I'm not surprised to hear that Forza sold out immediately (I didn't even bother to look as I assumed it would) but I am surprised that there appeared to be absolutely no availability for Berenice when public booking opened. Surely you're not going to have ticket touts trying to buy up  tickets for an obscure Handel opera with no star names in the cast?

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1 hour ago, Dawnstar said:

 

Does anyone know if the ROH is supposed to keep a proportion (is it 20% or am I misremembering?) of seats to be released for general booking for Linbury productions as well as for the main house ones? I'm not surprised to hear that Forza sold out immediately (I didn't even bother to look as I assumed it would) but I am surprised that there appeared to be absolutely no availability for Berenice when public booking opened. Surely you're not going to have ticket touts trying to buy up  tickets for an obscure Handel opera with no star names in the cast?

 

I don't know about general booking, but when Friends booking opened there were very few Berenice tickets left only a couple of minutes in.  I was lucky enough to nab one of the few remaining immediately after I'd got my Forza ticket.

 

Apologies if you do all this anyway, but I find it helps to be very organised about which productions and dates you're targeting and prioritise them according to how quickly you think they'll go. I also have a tab open for each production page before the clock strikes nine: though these have to be refreshed once you've got to the front of the queue, it saves a few seconds. Another thing to bear in mind is that seats do reappear in the first 30 minutes or so, as people refine what's in their basket.

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On 01/02/2019 at 21:59, Lizbie1 said:

 

Over my dead body :)

Ah, Lizbie, that must be because you want to keep your £1,400+ tickets for yourself. 🤣

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20 hours ago, Lizbie1 said:

Apologies if you do all this anyway, but I find it helps to be very organised about which productions and dates you're targeting and prioritise them according to how quickly you think they'll go. I also have a tab open for each production page before the clock strikes nine: though these have to be refreshed once you've got to the front of the queue, it saves a few seconds. Another thing to bear in mind is that seats do reappear in the first 30 minutes or so, as people refine what's in their basket.

 

I looked for Berenice first, with it being in the Linbury. However given the website problems it must have been nearly half an hour before I could actually get onto the page properly. At that point there were no tickets available for any of the performances & repeated re-checking didn't give anything but completely sold out. Hence I'm wondering if there was actually an allocation for public booking or not. I have yet to hear of anyone who managed to get a ticket on Wednesday.

Edited by Dawnstar

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2 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

 

I looked for Berenice first, with it being in the Linbury. However given the website problems it must have been nearly half an hour before I could actually get onto the page properly. At that point there were no tickets available for any of the performances & repeated re-checking didn't give anything but completely sold out. Hence I'm wondering if there was actually an allocation for public booking or not. I have yet to hear of anyone who managed to get a ticket on Wednesday.

Snap, Dawnstar.  I have asked half a dozen opera fans if they managed to get La Forza tickets from General Booking and none of them did.  Maybe I am seeing Reds under the Bed but this situation is weird.  The website (conveniently?)  malfunctions for 20 minutes, by which time the 20% of seats that are supposedly held back for General Booking have all gone.  Who bought these tickets and how were they able to access the website when ROH admitted at 09.11 that their site was down?

 

Before Itake this further, would appreciate hearing from anyone who managed to purchase La Forza tickets online through General Booking

 

 

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In case anyone is still in any doubt, Twitter (and this Forum) was right to be suspicious. This morning’s front page of The Times has the story (hope the link works):-

 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/at-3-435-per-seat-verdi-fans-are-in-for-a-fright-attheopera-l076mzhpt?shareToken=062944e0ea9b944970af0be73c9e09a8

 

If anyone has trouble accessing the Times story, there is a ripped off version on Mail Online:

 

https://mol.im/a/6664125

 

 

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I was just coming on to post the same article Geoff.  According to The Times only 100 tickets were kept back for general release (8% of the total), plus the Friday Rush allocation (which The Times has at 70, but I thought was 49).

 

I wasn't aware that tickets were held back for general release (and I'd be very interested to know which seats they are, or whether it is just the last 100 that haven't been sold to Friends) and that would explain why those nights were showing as Sold Out during the Friends priority period. 

 

 

 

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And on that note, does anyone know whether they hold back tickets between the various levels of Friends in a similar way?  I might pop an email over to find out, because depending on the allocations, that starts making paying for the extra priority look less attractive if one doesn't get a chance at the whole House.

 

 

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On 01/02/2019 at 21:59, Lizbie1 said:

 

Over my dead body :)

Can this be true?  8% of tickets available to general public in a publicly subsidised opera house?

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1 hour ago, penelopesimpson said:

Can this be true?  8% of tickets available to general public in a publicly subsidised opera house?

 

plus whatever Friends (at all levels) don't buy of course. 

I guess that in order to attract (extract?) extra funds from Friends you have to give then some incentive (a level of ticket availability above Joe Public). And not forgetting that Friends ARE Joe Public as well...

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I've copied over the Forza-related discussion from the Spring 2019 booking thread:

 

2 hours ago, penelopesimpson said:

Mr Beard warned anyone using a ticket bought on Viagogo could be turned away, but he said it was ‘highly unlikely’ members of the Royal Opera House were charging extortionate prices.

 

Humbug, Mr. Beard.  The day before General Booking opened, there were 63 of the Kaufmann/Netrebko dates for sale on just one secondary booking website.  The only people in possession of these tickets would be those who pay for privileged access.  (that'll be all those so-called elites that, last year, he was so keen to eliminate)

 

Mr. Beard sometimes strikes me as not knowing very much about the place he is supposed to run.  Perhaps he should have queried the mechanics of how these tickets could be available for sale before making such a statement.  I am particularly concerned about this 'only 100 seats being on sale to general public.'  This would explain why there was absolutely nothing available when General Booking opened but how can this be defended when public subsidy is involved?

 

2 hours ago, JohnS said:

 

I don’t think the Royal Opera House holds back the same percentage of tickets for general booking for each production/performance so by the time general booking opens for Forza/Ring, there’s very little left.  I’m afraid it’s very much a case of averages and over the course of a season the Royal Opera House will no doubt demonstrate that x% of tickets were on sale when general booking opened (I can’t recall what the target is).   Perhaps the Forza publicity will give a bit more impetus to the need for transparency and fairness?  And does anyone know if some secondary sites actually have in their possession the claimed tickets?

 

1 hour ago, FLOSS said:

I can't help wondering what those who have paid ridiculously inflated prices on the re-sale market for the privilege of hearing Kaufmann and Nebtrenko are likely to react if the "stars" withdraw at an early stage in the run? Both of them have form for cancelling. The fact that the second cast are scheduled to sing so soon after the first night suggests that the ROH has made contingency plans to deal with the possibility that one or both of the "stars" will either go home early or not turn up at all. 

 

In answer to  an earlier enquiry I suspect that the reason that the ROH doesn't sell the entire season in one go is because most people, or rather the proles aka "the little people who pay taxes" would have to take out a second mortgage to fund their habit or habits which would lead to even more accusations of elitism and exclusion than at present. As long as the arts organisations resident in Bow Street receive public subsidy they have to go through the motions of being accessible even if the marketing department with its sleight of hand;  recategorization of seats programme by programme and general jiggery-pokery with prices  seems to be doing its best to make them accessible only to a monied elite.

 

If the entire ballet programme were to be sold in one go would not the ballet audience complain that they were being required to buy tickets for performances by the Royal Ballet rather than performances by individual dancers? Is not lack of casting details something about which there are all too regular complaints at present? As far as the lack of performances of Britten operas is concerned remember maestro Pappano clearly believes that a true opera lover burns  to hear the third rate verismo repertory which is generally confined to provincial opera houses in Italy rather than Britten. As far as Pappano's conducting is concerned the fact that so little Britten is programmed may be no bad thing as he managed to make Peter Grimes sound more like Berg than any other conductor I have heard. The centenary village hall style staging of Gloriana suggests to me that there is little  empathy or understanding of the composer and his works to be found among the current artistic management of the "opera company".

 

Alex Beard  gives me the impression that he is merely a front man who has no real power and no understanding of how an opera or ballet company should operate. He never seems to be there in the evening to see the curtain go up and deal with emergencies in the way that Tooley and Isaacs did. His job is simply to deliver the script that he has been given however far removed from reality his scripted statements may be. 

 

 

1 hour ago, penelopesimpson said:

I agree that selling the whole season at once would be unfeasible and grossly unfair.  It is sad that a wonderful job like running ROH should seemingly have gone to somebody who appears disengaged from both the mechanics and the wonder.  I, too, have remarked that I never see Mr. Beard at ROH, whereas KOH is there virtually all the time.  However, given that he appears to know very little about how the House works, maybe he should take some advice before making press statements.

 

Maybe I am mistaken but I thought it was part of the unspoken covenant with the Arts Council that a certain number of seats for all performances were always held back for General Booking.  This has clearly not been the case with La Forza and I am coming to the view that the malfunction at 0900 may have been a blind to disguise the lack of tickets.  

 

What is particularly appalling is the hypocrisy.  Mr. Beard waffles on about elitism and accessibility and squanders millions building coffee shops, whilst clearly still restricting tickets for crowd-pullers to the very people whom he claims not to want in his Opera House.

 

1 hour ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

I agree with much of what you say, but it’s possible these tickets came from the allocation made over to the “official” ticket agencies, whose role I have never understood.

 

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