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Hi all, still newish to the forum so not sure if this is the right place to put this so please do move if not. Enjoy all the discussions on here and find it all very insightful! 

 

I'm debating whether it would be worth getting a ROH membership - I'm under 30 so would qualify for young friends (and anything above this is out of my price range anyway). 

 

I have a job with regular hours so it looks like I wouldn't be able to attend any friends rehearsals. I have so far only bought tickets £30-40 (though realistically would be looking to spend up to £70 for the new season depending on what I think is value for money) so I question if it's worth it for me, as the membership is the same as another ticket! So it looks like I'd really only be getting the membership for priority booking, but usually at the price ranges I buy (generally seats in middle amphi) there is reasonable availability (apart from when I tried to book for the Firebird mixed bill I had to settle for tickets which were actually cheaper than what I wanted to spend as the better seats had been snapped up!).

 

The other thing I'm thinking is now the Linbury is open, which is a smaller theatre, I'm even less likely to be able to get tickets in there? Furthermore with the ROH price increases I can potentially see more people may be booking seats in the price ranges I may be looking at (especially if they want to see multiple performances), although I also think people who can afford a membership are more likely to spend more on seats (and most in this forum seem to prefer to sit in the stalls etc, which I would love to do occasionally but have never been able to afford) but perhaps this is a misconception. 

 

For additional information I mainly go to see ballet, around once or twice a month and generally see each ballet performance at least once (depending on what's on, I didn't go to see Frankenstein at all, but have seen R&J twice!). I've seen two operas over the past year and think in future I'll mainly stick to ballet, though with the odd opera maybe once/twice a year (though for opera I would actually be looking to spend even less on tickets then for ballet!). 

 

I also wonder if having a friends membership creates a bit of a scrum on friends booking day, as that's what you pay for so I imagine the website is pretty crowded and so in some ways it may be 'better' to wait for the general booking day as there may actually be less people on site that day (though admittedly with fewer available seats!). I do wonder if 'friends' are sort of a squeezed middle of paying for priority booking, but there have already been various premium friends booking periods open before so you still don't get access to the seats you want necessarily?

 

Also wondering if friends membership generally increases every year in price, because I'd be quite annoyed if I had to pay substantially more year on year (ie seeing ticket price increases over the past year has really worried me). I wouldn't want to pay £62 for a young friend this year say, and then end up with it being £75 next year - I know it's impossible to predict this but just wondering if historically the membership price does increase year on year, and how proportionate it is? I presume the friends membership runs for a calendar year (e.g. from 1st June to 31st May say)?

 

So in short - those who have membership (particularly those with just 'friends' membership) - what makes it worth it for you? Do you generally get to buy the seats you want on booking day (would also be interested to see how much you spend generally). Has anyone stopped being a member and found a big difference, or recently started?

 

Sorry for a long post and genuinely grateful for any insights you can provide! 

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Also I'm intrigued about the packages system - are they quite flexible or only available on certain dates? 

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Good questions and (some) good analysis JNC, welcome to the Forum. I am sure the Forum will be quick to tell you that many (most?) rarely if ever sit in the stalls, so you will find like-minded folk here.

 

You make a lot of specific points, which I am sure others will go through with you in detail in due course. I’ll just make one observation: over the years I have been reading this Forum there have regularly been posts saying, in effect, not enough left over on General Booking day. So at just over a quid a week (which you can cancel after a year if it turns out not to work for you) I would try being a Friend for the next seasons and then reassess. Imho. 

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I'm a standard Friend, really just for the priority booking. I buy seats in the Amphi in the £12-£30 range (depending on the production) and almost always manage to get seats for the dates I want (I almost always manage to go online at 9am on the relevant date). I don't know if I'd be able to get these seats if I wasn't a Friend and just waited for Public Booking, but it's not really a risk I want to take since I can't afford more expensive tickets. (I'd be surprised if 'most' people on this forum book the expensive seats, though I know some do.) I don't use the package system because it doesn't cover the cheaper Amphi seats.

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Thanks both! Slightly reassured that not all can afford the stalls (though one day for a special occasion I may treat myself, but I don't see that happening for a few years yet!). Not that I'm not interested in hearing from those who can afford the stalls (you lucky things!) just a reflection on the reality of my salary! Interesting that the package system is only available for more expensive amphi seats, I'm guessing this is maybe rows A-F (or thereabouts?). The furthest forward I've managed has been L! 

 

Geoff - yes £1 a week doesn't seem like much when you put it that way! I could also consider it a donation to the arts I suppose! But I also feel I could get a decent ticket for £62 which is what has stopped me buying one so far. 

 

Bridiem - I generally find it's the more expensive seats that have less availability on general booking, as those who can afford membership (who I presume can also afford more expensive seats) have already got them. But it does make sense that those who love ballet/opera want to go see most, if not all performances, and then certain performances multiple times which does of course mean each individual ticket costing less though the overall cost is the same or more!

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2 minutes ago, JNC said:

Thanks both! Slightly reassured that not all can afford the stalls (though one day for a special occasion I may treat myself, but I don't see that happening for a few years yet!). Not that I'm not interested in hearing from those who can afford the stalls (you lucky things!) just a reflection on the reality of my salary! Interesting that the package system is only available for more expensive amphi seats, I'm guessing this is maybe rows A-F (or thereabouts?). The furthest forward I've managed has been L! 

 

It may be that by buying the lowest price in the package system (in the Amphi), but at the discounted price, it wouldn't be so  much more than the tickets I buy outside the package system. I haven't actually done the sums in detail! I just remember that last time I checked I decided not to use it. But you may want to do more systematic research!

 

Good luck with your decisions!

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I agree with Geoff, give it a try. I have been a standard friend for years- it started partly with my love of the RB and the ROH ( years ago) and wanting to put in my mite to support them. I feel a bit less like that now, for reasons easily discovered on the forum,  and each year do wonder whether to cancel as I can't really afford it and  the proliferating higher levels of Friendship all get earlier booking dates, so one is very far from first off the blocks.

But so far I have stuck with it. You do get a nice magazine 4 times a year too, and email updates. But mainly,  it means you get a better chance to get those cheaper amphi seats and I often do manage that.  Those of us- themajority- who want the cheaper seats probably do better, on the whole, from being a Friend than those who can afford the expensive seats-I think so anyway.

The ROH has been rather annoying lately but I still love the royal Ballet and am happy to help support them.

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2 minutes ago, Mary said:

The ROH has been rather annoying lately but I still love the royal Ballet and am happy to help support them.

 

Agreed!  

Priority booking really helps for more expensive seats which can very quickly be booked up for some productions.  9:00 on booking dates whatever the priority I guess is a busy time with many Friends refreshing their screens as the minutes tick down.

I’ve never bought a package, in part because some seats I particularly like are not included.  I’m therefore unsure of the detail and don’t know if you end up selecting your actual seat or if you are allocated a seat within the area specified for your package.

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13 minutes ago, JNC said:

I generally find it's the more expensive seats that have less availability on general booking, as those who can afford membership (who I presume can also afford more expensive seats) have already got them.

 

I’m a Friend. I like to see various casts so I will see a production several times. I find that most of the ‘good’ cheap seats tend to be gone by the time general booking opens (at least the ones I like to sit in) and sometimes availability for those is lacking even when Friends booking opens, but on the whole I do pretty well with purchasing tickets in the priority period. 

I try to go to Friends rehearsals whenever I can and really appreciate the opportunity (and the pasta pots!). 

 

I would say try it and see how you find it. 

 

 

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16 minutes ago, JohnS said:

 

Agreed!  

Priority booking really helps for more expensive seats which can very quickly be booked up for some productions.  9:00 on booking dates whatever the priority I guess is a busy time with many Friends refreshing their screens as the minutes tick down.

I’ve never bought a package, in part because some seats I particularly like are not included.  I’m therefore unsure of the detail and don’t know if you end up selecting your actual seat or if you are allocated a seat within the area specified for your package.

I have bought a package-only v rarely as the seats I favour are not always included.

However, John, it is the same as normal booking in that you select the seats you want- from what they show you as available.

 

Friends' rehearsals are a marvellous Friends' perk BUT they often start ( of course) late morning- so if working you can't go, and if like me you live outside London a peak train ticket ( at more than £40 for me now) rules it out too- a big shame.

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1 hour ago, bridiem said:

I just checked the ROH website re packages - see http://www.roh.org.uk/help/package-faqs

 

My head hurt by the time I'd tried to understand all the options...

 

Yes the website doesn't really seem to make things easier for us...

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Thanks all for taking the time to give me some thoughts. Overall the consensus seems to be give it a try! Thanks for the additional info re packages.

 

I'm just curious, what do people feel are the 'cheaper' 'good' seats in the amphi. Not wanting to overlap with another topic here but usually I tend to sit in the central amphi, around the £30-40 mark which usually gets me somewhere in the region of L-P depending on performance (though this will likely move back looking at new season prices...). 

 

Do people prefer to sit centrally or do you compromise and prefer a closer seat at left/right side block? 

 

Also at risk of asking a stupid question, are the friends rehearsals pretty much a run through of an entire ballet with music? Or is it more like a class style rehearsal where certain scenes are practised over and over again. I wouldn't be able to attend anyway due to work sadly but curious! 

 

Agree there's something to be said for supporting the royal opera house anyway, I like to think I do so with buying tickets and introducing friends to ballet as well, but I suppose the membership is an every little helps item too. 

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25 minutes ago, JNC said:

Thanks all for taking the time to give me some thoughts. Overall the consensus seems to be give it a try! Thanks for the additional info re packages.

 

I'm just curious, what do people feel are the 'cheaper' 'good' seats in the amphi. Not wanting to overlap with another topic here but usually I tend to sit in the central amphi, around the £30-40 mark which usually gets me somewhere in the region of L-P depending on performance (though this will likely move back looking at new season prices...). 

 

Do people prefer to sit centrally or do you compromise and prefer a closer seat at left/right side block? 

 

It's entirely a matter of preference. I prefer being further forward even though it means being at the sides, but I'm sure others prefer to be central even if further back. 

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Friends get 10% discount in the shop too, not on programmes though, I like being in the back central amphi rather than nearer on the side, I'm sure I wouldn't get the seats I wanted without being a Friend. Reminds me of an occasion when a woman said to me "that's a good seat, I bet you're a Super Friend" and I replied no just an Ordinary one, she then told me she had bought her husband a Membership for his birthday, then when they saw the long list of dates, he realised he was about tenth in the pecking order :)

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the 'rival's opera or ballet packages are pretty good value if you can afford the higher prices, both offer 18% discount. The packages that let you select your chosen performances, and also mix ballet and opera, are again decent value. As a low level friend I find early booking can be helpful, although as someone who goes to performances in my own i find i can often pick up odd tickets nearer the time of performance.  I think the suggestion that you try it for a year is a good one.

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I think it depends if you are going on your own or if you want groups of tickets. Also if you are picky in which dancers you wish to see.

 

In general I think the ROH membership is worth it because I look to book for specific dancers and also occasionally a group of 4. I actually upped my level of membership this year because the group of 4 proved difficult for a popular Christmas matinee and I also found that the best seats had gone for the specific dancer performances I wanted.

 

However, if you hold your nerve, it is usually possible to snap up returns for any performance with a week or less of it happening - for 1 person, that is.  However, you are then at the mercy of the price range of the tickets being returned.

 

Friends membership does also get you invitations to other events such as rehearsal.

 

Bottom line with the ROH - the more you pay, the more opportunities you get.      

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14 hours ago, JNC said:

The other thing I'm thinking is now the Linbury is open, which is a smaller theatre, I'm even less likely to be able to get tickets in there? Furthermore with the ROH price increases I can potentially see more people may be booking seats in the price ranges I may be looking at (especially if they want to see multiple performances), although I also think people who can afford a membership are more likely to spend more on seats (and most in this forum seem to prefer to sit in the stalls etc, which I would love to do occasionally but have never been able to afford) but perhaps this is a misconception. 

 

It definitely is!  I'd say there are at least as many of us in the stalls circle standing and similar :) 

 

JNC, you might also like to have a look at this thread:

 

 

 

My thoughts: does Young Friends offer you additional things over and above normal Friends' membership?  If so, I'd be inclined to grab it while you're eligible.  Also, I'm not sure where you come in the booking pecking order - students are the day before public booking, I think?  In fact, didn't someone say that young and students had now been combined?  If so, that would entitle you to student standby and student amphi performances, I think - worth having, I'd have though

 

I (briefly) was a Friend once, but never got any good rehearsals, and decided to save the money and spend it on performances instead.  (I think the system has probably changed since those days, though).  You might well be surprised to find that some people find it worthwhile to spend a lot of money on being a Friend at some level simply so that they can grab the "cheap" seats they want ahead of the competition!

 

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I think it depends what you want the membership for.

If you want priority booking especially if you are one of those who want to see every cast etc then it could be good for those cheaper seats.....and presumably stalls circle standing would be grabbed up by Friends before public booking. 

But if you want the membership to be able to gain access to events in the Clore Theatre for example like masterclasses or interviews with dancers or choreographers talking about their works with demos and the like .....then it may not be so good as usually these type of events are taken by higher grades of Friends ( because the Clore is so small) so often sold out already by ordinary Friends booking dates. 

I used to be a Friend but left a couple of years ago because I was prepared to pay a bit higher for seats ( not Stalls level prices though) and don't go to multiple performances so could always get what I wanted on public booking....or mostly anyway. The things I did want via Friends were continually unavailable so got fed up with paying for the membership. 

 

I joined ENB instead and this was fine until this year and now they are going the way of the ROH by introducing a new higher grade of Friends there!! I can still get access to masterclasses though.... in fact yesterday booked the first one at the new venue on City Island which I'm excited about.....but if that should eventually go then I will probably give that membership up too as  I never  have problem getting tickets on public booking opening. 

 

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45 minutes ago, LinMM said:

I think it depends what you want the membership for.

If you want priority booking especially if you are one of those who want to see every cast etc then it could be good for those cheaper seats.....and presumably stalls circle standing would be grabbed up by Friends before public booking. 

But if you want the membership to be able to gain access to events in the Clore Theatre for example like masterclasses or interviews with dancers or choreographers talking about their works with demos and the like .....then it may not be so good as usually these type of events are taken by higher grades of Friends ( because the Clore is so small) so often sold out already by ordinary Friends booking dates. 

I used to be a Friend but left a couple of years ago because I was prepared to pay a bit higher for seats ( not Stalls level prices though) and don't go to multiple performances so could always get what I wanted on public booking....or mostly anyway. The things I did want via Friends were continually unavailable so got fed up with paying for the membership. 

 

I joined ENB instead and this was fine until this year and now they are going the way of the ROH by introducing a new higher grade of Friends there!! I can still get access to masterclasses though.... in fact yesterday booked the first one at the new venue on City Island which I'm excited about.....but if that should eventually go then I will probably give that membership up too as  I never  have problem getting tickets on public booking opening. 

 

 

 

I have been a Friend+ for a good few years now and stalls circle standing have long gone before I get a go, and we are before Friend. I think these are offered elsewhere, students maybe?

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21 hours ago, JNC said:

Also at risk of asking a stupid question, are the friends rehearsals pretty much a run through of an entire ballet with music? Or is it more like a class style rehearsal where certain scenes are practised over and over again.

 

Friends are given access only to (some of) what ROH refers to as the General rehearsal, ie the dress rehearsal. This is as near as possible simply a full run through of the whole show, exactly like the first night (in the theatre world this might be labelled a “preview”).

 

So for the opera you (usually) get the first night stars who, although one is alerted to them possibly not “singing out”, they almost invariably do, giving their all. Which they can manage as the final opera rehearsal is always scheduled at least a couple of days before the first night.

 

For ballet it can be different, in that the final rehearsal will often be on the day of the first night and so at least some different dancers tend to appear (meaning that dedicated types can see two different casts on the same day, just like booking a matinee and an evening performance).

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24 minutes ago, Geoff said:

 

Friends are given access only to (some of) what ROH refers to as the General rehearsal, ie the dress rehearsal. This is as near as possible simply a full run through of the whole show, exactly like the first night (in the theatre world this might be labelled a “preview”).

 

So for the opera you (usually) get the first night stars who, although one is alerted to them possibly not “singing out”, they almost invariably do, giving their all. Which they can manage as the final opera rehearsal is always scheduled at least a couple of days before the first night.

 

For ballet it can be different, in that the final rehearsal will often be on the day of the first night and so at least some different dancers tend to appear (meaning that dedicated types can see two different casts on the same day, just like booking a matinee and an evening performance).

 

I would add that at Friends General Rehearsals:

 - the conductor and orchestra stay in their ordinary daytime clothes

- the front central stalls are allocated to approved photographers, and in quieter moments you do hear a little background noise from camera shutters clicking

- for ballet rehearsals the dancers very occasionally mark some sections, rather than dancing fully as they would in an actual performance

- on very rare occasions I've seen a ballet rehearsal halted so that a particular sequence can be repeated onstage

- also very occasionally I've seen a ballet rehearsal of a full length work scheduled to showcase a different principal cast in different acts, e.g. I hope I am correct in remembering a Swan Lake FGR with Sarah Lamb as Odette and Zenaida Yanowsky as Odile

 

It seems worth mentioning these points just to indicate that a FGR may not always be the exact equivalent of an actual performance. But I have enjoyed numerous FGRs over the years, and for me this opportunity remains a major reason for retaining Friends' membership.

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52 minutes ago, bangorballetboy said:

On the topic of package booking, this is the period 1 summary sent to friends.

CE62DE64-BE3B-437A-A5BF-625A08EAB1F3.jpeg

Where was this? I didn’t see it in my mag...

 

In terms of is friends worth it- I have fluctuated between friends and friends+ for the past few years and have seen the benefit.

 

Early booking is helpful and package discounts a benefit although wish they would allow in other tiers.

 

In terms of general rehearsals, if you work in central London and can afford to take a half day off work it’s worth doing for that. I work a 5 min walk from the ROH and have taken along someone from work which meant I was able to take the time off without cutting into holiday.  This and packages are the main reason I am a friend.

 

10% off in the shop is also pretty good esp with their new range but dvds and books still better value elsewhere.

 

I upped my membership originally to try to access insights when they always seem sold out. Membership doesn’t help with this- but regularly checking the site does!

 

ENB membership gives access to rehearsals at night (7pm start) although they aren’t always full dress rehearsals. You also get 20% off most tickets (except Royal Albert Hall) so excellent value. 

 

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7 minutes ago, Blossom said:

Where was this? I didn’t see it in my mag...

 

 

 

It’s on the same sheet of paper as the cover letter (i.e. the back of the address sheet).

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34 minutes ago, bangorballetboy said:

 

It’s on the same sheet of paper as the cover letter (i.e. the back of the address sheet).

Prob in the bin then- 🤦‍♀️ 

Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks all for your insightful comments! I’ve just spent a while reading them all and have tried to reply to all in a coherent way but even if I don’t specifically name-check you I really appreciate your contributions.

 

Alison thanks - I did actually search the forum first to ensure I wasn’t duplicating anything but searched under ‘membership’ rather than friends! I’ll certainly have a read of that topic.

 

I am actually a member of Young ROH at the moment yes, and certainly wouldn’t want to lose the student amphi and student standby options - I have emailed ROH to ask if I would still be eligible for those if I became a Young Friend too - I sense the answer would annoyingly be no, in which case I’d stick with student priority as we do get a day’s head start on booking above general (although not as favourable as friends certainly). Would be odd if they couldn’t let me have both as I am eligible for both but I sense the purpose of Young ROH is to get those who (are perceived as having) less finances involved, which then doesn’t fit with you having enough to pay to be a Young Friend perhaps? Although I would see it as prioritising and budgeting but not sure what they’ll say! If it’s a no, I think I’ll stick with Young ROH for now as the student amphi performances (usually at least two ballets) make it worthwhile.

 

For those who are interested, student standby actually is really rare - I’ve only ever seen it for a few operas (La Boheme, La Traviata, Billy Budd I think) and only for Mayerling, The Two Pigeons and current Medusa ballets over the past year. So I would say more than 60/70% of the programme never comes up for standby sale. Saying that, student standby/amphi is the first and so far only time I’ve seen operas, so it’s done its job of introducing me to opera. I definitely prefer ballet but wouldn’t be opposed to going to a few operas in future. So Young ROH definitely works and I think is a great scheme!

 

To reply to the SCS tickets - no, students don’t get special access to these so they must be going to the premium friends if they’re not available by the time friends are booking.

 

At the moment I’m not looking at other memberships, I do go to a few ENB performances a year but tend to stick to the cheaper seats anyway so sense it wouldn’t be worth it. Plus with ENB (and with ROH) I do like to see what dancers will be dancing so sometimes don’t book until quite last minute which means priority booking isn’t really worthwhile for ENB.

 

Josephine/Geoff - thanks for the additional info on what rehearsals consist of, good to know.

 

Bangorballetboy - that is really useful info on the packages thank you! I don’t know if you (or anyone else) are able to say what classes as ‘top price’ seats in the amphi?

 

Looks like packages aren’t really an option for me anyway, as I alternate between going solo and going with one or two people so packages wouldn’t really facilitate this. Furthermore if ‘top price’ is what I may think it is, then financially it’s probably a no too.

 

To conclude - if I hear back from ROH that I am able to continue being a Young ROH (student) member and also have the benefits of Young Friend, then it’s certainly become a highly tempting option as I do like to book a lot of ballet and as others have mentioned, I do tend to have a preference on what dancers I see. It’s a shame I wouldn’t be able to really go to any rehearsals however, and disappointing that a lot of insights get booked up anyway (should the ROH not stagger some things to ensure things are available for general booking and also therefore ‘lower’ tiers of friends?). I also don’t buy anything in the shop, and it’s a shame they can’t extend discounts to programmes as surely this wouldn’t cost them much (if anything maybe more programme sales!) and gives members that little additional benefit.

 

If I’m not allowed to be both, I think I may stick with Young ROH for now for the student standby and (minimal) priority booking, and then upgrade to Young Friend once I’m no longer a Young ROH. Although I may reassess if I find it’s near impossible to get anything in the Linbury…

 

One more question - it mentions that after your Young ROH expires, you are put onto some sort of graduate membership with ‘similar’ deals to Young ROH. I’m wondering if anyone has any more information about this (the thought has suddenly stuck me that perhaps in the first year you may even get discount on a Young Friend membership if you were previously a part of Young ROH to entice people to sign up?). That would certainly be ideal! If no one knows I may be tempted to ask ROH themselves what the ‘graduate’ offers entail, though I can’t imagine they’ll be as good as either Young Friend or Young ROH so apart from perhaps some discount on the Young Friend membership I literally have no idea what it may be!

 

Thanks all again for all your comments, and I hope it’s been a useful discussion for others who may be wondering the same thing!

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Sorry a related/unrelated question - Linbury tickets aren't part of the Friday rush are they? 

 

That means if you can't get a ticket on whichever booking day you are assigned to (friends, student, general etc) you just have to hope for a return?

 

Do they have to keep a set number of tickets aside for the Linbury on the day tickets go on general sale? I remember reading elsewhere on this forum that 20% of tickets at least are supposed to be available on general sale date (in all price ranges) but I also remember reading the drama around La Forza...

 

How have people found booking Linbury tickets so far? I haven't actually seen anything in there yet but would like to see some next season!

Edited by JNC

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12 minutes ago, JNC said:

To reply to the SCS tickets - no, students don’t get special access to these so they must be going to the premium friends if they’re not available by the time friends are booking.

 

Maybe you're not aware of this, JNC, but a number of stalls circle standing tickets are set aside for students.

 

From the ROH website list of student benefits:

"Ten Slips and Standing tickets for every single main-stage performance at face value (usually £4–£9)"

(http://www.roh.org.uk/for/rohstudents/whats-in-it-for-me)

 

As I understand it, SCS D11-15 and D35-39 are kept back for the student booking day which takes place the day before public booking day.  If students don't take them they're released to the public at a later date.

Edited by Bluebird
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1 minute ago, Bluebird said:

 

Maybe you're not aware of this, JNC, but a number of stalls circle standing tickets are set aside for students.

 

From the ROH website list of student benefits:

"Ten Slips and Standing tickets for every single main-stage performance at face value (usually £4–£9)"

(http://www.roh.org.uk/for/rohstudents/whats-in-it-for-me)

 

As I understand it, SCS D11-15 and D35-39 are kept back for the student booking day which takes place the day before public booking day.  If students don't take them they're released to the public at a later date.

 

Thank you, I wasn't aware! I have so far been a bit reluctant to stand but I should at least give it a try I suppose, especially with the ever-increasing prices..! 

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