Buyer’s market

La Cieca was cced the following letter sent by a “long-time patron of NYCO” in response to “the recently received Subscription Renewal Brochure.”

She has withheld the patron’s name by request.

Good morning.

I have received the subscription renewal brochure for next season, and as usual I have read it quite carefully.

At the risk of sounding absolutely ancient and out-of-it, I’d like to mention that I have attended City Opera performance for many years, probably beginning around 1959, when I attended a memorable performance of The Consul, with an astonishing Patricia Neway. There were seasons where it seemed that everything I saw there was great, and other times that I was not so entranced.

But looking back, just about everything was worth seeing, and there were many many performances that still linger in my memory many years later. I will never forget literally shaking in my seat at Norman Treigel’s final scene in Mefistofele in the fall on 1969, and Sills in Lucia that same year. I recall wonderful performances of challenging works like Ginastera’s Bomarzo and Don Rodrigo. (With young Domingo, no less.) I sat next to a weepy Paul Newman at a performance of Hoiby’s Summer and Smoke.

And such indelible artists as Patricia Brooks and Maralin Niska, who placed their own unique stamps on many of the productions done for Sills. And who could ever forget Brooks in La Traviata? More recently, and in more difficult times, I was quite thrilled to see Antony and Cleopatra again in the semi-staged version at Carnegie Hall.

I have always been a rather thrifty and low-end tickets buyer. When a certain amount of money is available, I like to get the largest number of performances, and have never felt I was missing much by sitting in the fourth or even fifth ring. My first Sills Manon was a one dollar ticket in the fifth ring of a sold out performance. No problem. Everything came across to my satisfaction.

Last year, my fourth ring subscription tickets came to (I believe) 12 dollars per seat. I saw all the operas, as well as the additional “concerts” and although I was not quite wild about everything, the City Opera has long provided an incentive to see unusual things at a reasonable price. I would not be in a hurry to see any of them again, but I don’t regret having seen them once. Even Seance on a Wet Afternoon, which, if little else, had interesting and committed performances.

This year, it appears that the least expensive ticket will be $60. Or $48 if one chooses to attend all four and get the discount. I’d say that is quite a jump.

In addition, I suspect that traveling from the Bronx to and from BAM ( although I have done it on very special occasions) might be a bit more than I want to undertake for Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna or Jonathan Miller’s take on Traviata. To speak of BAM, John Jay and El Museo as “curated venues” (whatever that actually means) strikes me as a bit euphemistic. And as for the “specially-curated subscription series,” well that strikes me as a bit too much “curating” to be claimed in one letter.

In short, I feel quite insulted by your brochure. The extremely offhand and casual way you present a 400% or 500% ticket price increase and a move to what seem like rather substandard (however “curated”) venues is especially insensitive.

Sincerely,

[Faithful Member of the Cher Public]