Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rush Ticket Drama Before Eugene Onegin

Last August I wrote about nasty drama on the line to see Hair in Central Park, and tried to envision improvements at the Metropolitan Opera as well as Shakespeare in the Park.

"I wish the line systems at Shakespeare in the Park and the Met could be improved to avoid that kind of conflict and pain," wrote I. "It just sucks to leave the people in line to play such a big role in enforcing the strict rules. There's got to be a better way. Handing out place tickets in the order of arrival might be the best strategy."

More ticket line trouble broke out at the Met on Monday afternoon, as opera fans gathered for rush tickets to see the well-reviewed Eugene Onegin.

To the surprise of many, there wasn't much of a line in the chilly construction zone where a bunch of early birds lined up at the front while, around a corner, some others waited on a bench.

The problem arose when later arrivals inserted themselves ahead of the bench-sitters. This is a phenomenon known as cutting, but the grown-ups who cut the line acted like schoolchildren when challenged by the bench-sitters.

I'm learning that you can tell when, deep down, cutters know that they're trying to pull a fast one. They aren't the ones who'll go to management for backup. Or, if they do go to management, they'll try to pretend that they haven't been set straight. Instead, they'll just try to stand their ground—even when, in this case, they wouldn't even have lost much by going back a little bit in line.

The woman from the Met who intervened in this case was terrific, but the Met could still do better when it comes to managing the line. Policy should be spelled out clearly, on site and online. Line supervisors should be on hand for more of the afternoon. And, while I'm at it, more of an effort should be made to make the line comfortable instead of making it an endurance challenge out of Survivor: At the Met.

I should note that the Met is now offering advance online ticket drawings, which might end up being part of the solution.

As for Eugene Onegin, it grew on me as it went along, gradually winning me over. The early pastoral scenes were pretty, but I didn't get drawn into the action until the balls and the duel and the intrigue of the later scenes. And Piotr Beczala earned the crowd's favor with his sweetly voiced Lenski. Bravo!

The other Eugene Onegin performances this season will be on February 14, 18, and 21.

Here you can hear Beczala performing "La donna e mobile," from Rigoletto.

Source (2:17)

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