Standing Room

Standing Room Adventures in Paris

Facade-opera-bastille * Notes *
Standing room at Opéra national de Paris is a fairly organized affair. I arrived at Opéra Bastille at around 4:30pm, asked where the standing room line was from the person at the information counter by the box office, and was directed to the main door. Outside near the gift shop door were four people, and it was clear they were the opera-goers I was looking for. After a few minutes some ladies also showed up and started organizing us by number. A sheet of paper was folded into 32 pieces, numbered, and cut into slips. I was given number 5, and then most everyone went their separate ways to get out of the cold, just leaving a few people to distribute numbers as they arrived.

The other opera standees were concerned by my lack of gloves, and after an hour I was encouraged to sit inside the gift shop to wait. Evidently, the time they open the doors varies from day to day. At around 6:15pm the 24 of us all got into line and were herded into the building to the two standing room ticket machines in the lobby. We went up two at a time, told the person supervising us if we wanted one or two places, and paid using coins or credit cards.

The standing places are not numbered, but there did not seem to be a mad dash for the best spots along the railing. As at the Met, there are layers of railings on the orchestra level. In Paris, however, the ushers are extremely helpful in finding standees seats. After the first intermission of Don Carlo I was given a seat in the middle of the rear orchestra, and was asked to climb over seat to take it.

Standing Room at Opéra National de Paris

Whilst looking at tickets for Opéra national de Paris I learnt that they do have standing room, but only at Opéra Bastille. The official site of the opera says that the tickets go on sale when the doors open, approximately 90 minutes before curtain up. This seems rather vague, as it does not say where said tickets can be purchased.

The French language site was not much more help, reading: Les places de 9e catégorie (debout) sont vendues à l’ouverture des portes soit environ 1 heure 30 avant la représentation and Les places de 9e catégorie (debout) à l’Opéra Bastille sont vendues dès l'ouverture des portes, soit environ 1h30 avant le lever de rideau.

After a bit more research, I found that AP reported that 62 tickets go on sale from machines in the lobby, which helps a little bit but still leaves me with a lot of questions. One wonders when and where the queue forms. Any advice on this is welcome.

SF Opera's Opening Night Standing Room Line 2008-2009

This morning I got to the standing room line in front of the War Memorial Opera House at 5:15am and I was still second in line. Bested yet again by Deidra of the Opera Standees Association. The next person arrived at 7:30am, but by the time the box office opened there were about 15 people in line. Next year I will try sleeping in more.

As I waited I wrote emails to friends in the Netherlands and Germany. One of them suggested that my phone should "use the slightly obsolete irregular past participle from of senden, i.e. gesandt" when sending emails. The other one suggested I should be ashamed about my place in line and that "all of [my] opera blog fans are disappointed!"

Adventures in Standing Room Ticket Procurement

Though I have been in standing room at Seattle Opera for at least 9 performances, I never quite figured out how their system works. This is partially because standing room is never full, and partially because I let my erstwhile Seattle Opera companion, the Opernphrenologe, take charge, as she was living in Seattle up until fairly recently.

Since the Opernphrenologe moved to Germany earlier this year, I wrote a missive to Seattle Opera to explain their Standing Room Policy, which they promptly answered. I posted what I found relevant on my page on "Standing Room, Rush, and Other Last-Minute Ticket Options for Various Opera Houses," but I missed something quite essential. The ticket office is not in the opera house. It is not even particularly close to the opera house, in fact. Now it is much more clear to me why the lease of Mercer Arena, which will bring all of Seattle Opera's operations under one roof, is such news.

Yesterday, my plan was to take the bus to Downtown Seattle from the airport and then just walk over to Seattle Center, where McCaw Hall (Seattle Opera's house) is. It is easy to navigate because one only needs to head toward the Space Needle. Unfortunately, I was not able to get on the 194 bus, as it was completely full and had to wait 20 minutes for the next one. I had put away my protective noise-canceling headphones as I had run out of podcasts. I had thought it would be nicer, when buying my bus ticket, to actually be able to hear. It is interesting what one misses when insulated by such headphones. For instance, as I walked through Seattle Center, an individual growled at me, which I ignored. He went follow me for a bit, and  said something that implied that I did not speak English, but I was too much in a hurry to correct him. I guess a person in loose workout clothes, clutching a copy of The Brothers Karamazov, and dragging around fancy German luggage is simply asking to be harassed.

At any rate, I got to the opera house just 10 minutes after the ticket office opens. However, McCaw Hall looked distinctly closed, and I knew something must be wrong. Thankfully, I was able to look at the Seattle Opera Web site from my mobile phone. The ticket office is at 1020 John Street, a mile away from the opera house, tucked under a parking lot. I was most amused by their apt explanation of how to find the office: "Look for the orange Seattle Opera billboard next to the 13 Coins Restaurant parking lot. There is rooftop visitor parking to the right of the billboard; Seattle Opera's Ticket Office is one level below this lot." I did eventually find my way, and got to the ticket office by 12:30. Of course, it didn't actually matter, standing room had less than 6 people. I learnt latter that tickets are actually also available by phone at (206) 389-7676 or (1-800) 426-1619.

Boren Avenue at John Street:


The Orange Sign (Note how the street ends.):


The Parking Lot: