Zealous usher rant: upgrading

ffwSome of my best friends… you know what I’m going to say: most ushers are fine, helpful, courteous. But some seem to channel snotty butlers.

Last year at Glyndebourne – where else? – me and opera buddy ran into one of these Cerbers when went to see Hippolyte et Aricie. Even before the intermission we’d already eyed the sole floor seats left unoccupied, which just so happened to be the best seats in the house. Normally I’m not fussy, any kind of upgrade is fine by me. In fact I often don’t even bother to.

But since truly these were the only seats we could spot and the production would have been fun to see up-close, we thought we should go for it. After first bell we made our way to the arena and sat down. Nobody else had claimed them by the time the lights were about to dim. That’s when Mr. Jeeves showed up and demanded to see our tickets. WHY? What did he bloody accomplish by keeping a couple of opera lovers from getting a better reception of the show? Did he think he was better than us because he ushered at Glyndebourne and we had Standing seats? Did some snobbish arsehole “tip” him? To what end? Nobody sat in those seats until the end of the performance. From what he let on it emerged that the seats were actually unsold.

Nobody wins when seats remain empty. Unless the house feels good about itself in admitting it has not managed to sell out said performances or did not convince patrons to attend…

this “blast from the past” rant brought to you by frustration old and new with customer service (nothing to do with yesterday’s performance)
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About dehggial

opera lover with a predilection for Mozart and Baroque

Posted on November 28, 2014, in freeform weekend, glyndebourne, rants and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. i once had a team of ushers conspiring and trying to corner me but i was quick to escape in opposition direction out the concert hall :D. my best experience is actually at the theatre des champs elysses where as soon as door closed, EVERYONE tried to shuffling for better seats on upper deck and usher was helping arranging! on the other hand, i heard those ushers in vienna are like bouncers terrorizing tourists, both at the theater an der wien and at opera haus.. though their tickets were so accessible and cheap i don’t mind, as long as you stay within the program.. one time i was in line for standing tix (for Alcina!!) at the opera haus and a pair of russian mother-daughter was in front of me, and the mother couldn’t stand for too long so she just went out of the line but right in front of us sitting down while her daughter was still in line, then when she tried to get back in bouncer denied her and pointed finger to end of line! (there’s validity to this policy in making sure nobody just hold space for those who don’t show up, but i thought that guy was enjoying his authority a bit too much..)

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    • now that I complained I have to say that the same year at Glyndebourne an usher turned a blind eye at me and another opera buddy upgrading from Standing gallery to second row parterre even before the show started! Eh heh heh, that was a good day. We actually tried to sit right behind the conductor but somebody did show up so went back one row 😉

      will keep in mind that thing about Theatre des Champs Elysees.

      I don’t know how you stood in line and then stood for the entire 4 hours of Alcina! I only stood for about an hour before Salome and through it but Salome is way short. Hippolyte and Aricie was testing my standing stamina even with the very long intermission.

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      • certain singer(s) brings time to a standstill and the only thing you remember is the roaring which regretfully brought you back to a reality that the night was over 😉

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      • i forgot to mention, the munich national theater galerie section is also quite relaxing with some very friendly germans and tourists. also, zurich opera house quite relaxing too. i think if you remain in upper deck, shuffling is common, but if you go from there down to first floor..

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        • thank you! how about the sound from up there?

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          • sound is great at the top. but as you mentioned in the post of clemenza di tito, it’s a big treat to see the orchestra. i always made sure i see it so in that case i’m always more on the side than at center and thus missing out some action on stage.. but i wouldn’t trade it otherwise. in zurich you won’t have problem anywhere because the haus is very intimate and small. in munich, there was only 1 occasion, with Tara Eraught singing romeo 1 night, and i was more at center on galerie that her sound just didn’t carry well (and orchestra a big annoying mess, even my wonderful friend <– same one from Berlin in other conversation 😀 agreed orchestra was subpar, so i don't think it was the fault of the hall on that day..) . so my experience in europe, when you're at top or when there's no over-hang, i never had problem with sound (except for that 1 night in munich). i've been thinking i should put a side-bar with halls and quoted my seat + view (also so i can remember..)

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            • good to hear. Yes, put a side bar with halls, your experience is invaluable. I think I will make a feature about halls I’ve been to as well. Have to say Erraught carried well at Glyndebourne.

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              • ps- unrelated, there’s a live capuleti w/ garanca on radio somewhere right now..

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                • cheers, I’m listening to l’elisir d’amore. Garanca = not my thing.

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                  • oh, haha, i thought she was your thing 😉
                    i always listen to capuleti though.. she’s making entrance now.. let’s see..
                    have fun w/ l’elisir d’amore, i don’t know that story at all…

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                    • most people are shit at capuleti 😉 I saw JDD is doing one soon in Zurich but she’s not good (enough for me) either. Elisir is a silly love story where “the good guy” gets the girl.

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                    • oh, that explains why i haven’t noticed elisir 😉
                      yes, true, it really needs a certain.. though after sitting through three live Tara Erraught outings, i’m getting around to listening to the details and getting past the non-VK hurdle…

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                    • poor you! not one, but three. I liked TE’s Sesto and Octavian a lot but I don’t know if I’d necessary want to see her Romeo. Although if they actually staged Capuleti here I might just have to go. Still, she’s too comedic for Romeo, that chap is not funny at all.

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                    • comedic? she did a very admirable job, i quite like her take with the young Eri Nakamura. that one evening i mentioned was really a night everything was off, she even fell on stage… oh here comes Alexandra Kurzak as Giulietta.. how’s Elisir doing?

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                    • which one of them fell? (he heh). Comedic, I mean have you seen a funnier Sesto than hers? Elisir is very good actually, I’m starting to feel bad I didn’t go (it’s at ROH. I just can’t stand Grigolo).

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  2. I’ve had mostly positive usher experiences (no enforcers, and some truly nice & helpful people) but I suspect it’s one of those jobs that attract both helper-type personalities and Field Marshall types.

    Bummer about Jeeves at Glyndbourne – I hope something mildly unpleasant happened to that guy later in the day to kind of even it out.

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