Covent Garden tickets for £3,435?

The Times reports today that scalpers on Viagogo are charging vast amounts to see and hear Netrebko and Kaufmann in Forza del Destino, the first time they have appeared together in a decade, apparently.

The paper feigns outrage over the tickets being subsidised by the taxpayer, which is true.

But there’s a market at work out there. If someone was lucky enough to score seats for the rare event and can’t use them, what should they do – give them away?

And if someone else is prepared to pay a king’s ransom to see Anna and Jonas entwined before they die, what’s to stop them?

As they once were.

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  • What should they do??? We would have expected you to know Mr Lebrecht! You give them back to the box office and they resell them! ROH t&c’s mention that if you resell on 3rd party sites they are likely to get cancelled.

    • Exactly, this is utterly ridiculous… You are spot on Mike.
      I was one of the lucky ones as I don’t live in the UK, nor am I a friend of ROH (so I had no access to the tickets before the general booking date), nor am I a wealthy person. I simply called the box office and asked whether they had a return.
      They had one, and I got my ticket for 200 €. I am glad there are still honest people and not only extortionists that think and agree with such way of thinking.

    • Yes, either find a friend/acquaintance to whom you are willing to give the ticket (I have both given and received tickets in this way) or return it the box office. The terms and conditions of most concert and opera tickets are quite clear that reselling for profit or gain is prohibited (this provision is often printed on the verso of the ticket), and that only tickets sold by the box office or its appointed agents are valid for admission.

      We treat too many things in life as “assets” ripe for speculation and exploitation. This attitude, in moderation, may encourage innovation and healthy investment, but, in excess, has proven pernicious (just look at London’s residential property market, which has become all about “yield” and “equity”, rather than about “homes”).

  • This is of course the direct consequence of hype on steroids which is the way these two have conducted or have allowed their careers to be conducted. Once obvious artistic and technical demerits get occluded and glossed over by the extreme hype, it’s all smoke and mirrors. The inordinate ticket prices reflect this reality distortion, not unlike what has happened to real estate in many urban centers.

    • Nasty beast is coming out in you again. One day you will say something positive and the rest of us will faint in shock!

      • Helen, in other words, a person would have to be pretty stupid to shell out an exorbitant £3,435 for a night with a crooner and an intonation challenged wobbler.

        • That’s my problem too and that’s why I wouldn’t spend a tenner for this tenor (just couldn’t resist). He started once very well as a lyric tenor and he really had a lovely voice. But by now the voice is overstrained and tired and often enough he does what we German name “knödeln” (he sounds as if he’d had a dumpling in his throat). And for Ms. N. – she’s got a great voice, but unfortunately her intonation really isn’t too good and unfortunately I do hear such things (that comes from two years ear training at a German conservatoire).

          • I agree with every single word you wrote, Sibylle. It’s such a pity that there are so many deaf people who cannot hear Mr. Kaufmann’s voice problems and Ms Netrebkos “slope” intonation. They just pay for these artists beauty…

          • Tired? What a silly comment! Heard him two days ago very fresh and delicate in French repertory.
            Yes.Mrs. Netrepko`s intonation is unsecure and mostoy too low…..

      • What has Caraveggio’s emotional state to do with his judgement as a musician? My ears are indepedent from my frame of mind and I hear problems with intonation or if a voice sounds overstrained independent from how I feel.
        Actually you’ve done what I dislike so much in the internet these days: You can’t put an argument against Caraveggio’s, so you try to attack him personally.

  • Oh my – that’s another proof about “a fool and his money are soon parted”. I wouldn’t pay € 10,00 for Mr Kaufmann (I’d rather invest them in a real dumpling), but if people think it’s worth this sum – well, it’s their money, they can do with it what they want. And when organizer think it isn’t fair that they can’t profite from such prizes – well, at least in Germany we have a free market.

    • Nobody’s asking you to pay to see mr Kaufmann. Thank God for we can do without such grouchy mean spirited people in the audience!

      • Oh, a Jonas-Fangirl! Are you speaking for his fanclub or is this “Thank God for _we_ can …” a pluralis majestatis?

      • Oh, oh, a Jonas fangirl….. His hard-core fans are very strange. He could croak like a raven, they would clap as crazy and scream “bravo”.

        • Yep, that is what makes a fangirl. They’re so “faitful” to her star that they would never admit that he wasn’t perfect. And that reminds me of a story which once had a friend of mine and me in stitches: We came out of a recital where her hubby had plaid the piano while mine had sung. They’d already been on tour for a few nights and so the friend said: “What do you think? I thought the boys would sound a bit tired …” And I answered: “Yes, XY (my hubby) certainly is tired and didn’t spare himself a bit. Besides he was fighting a bit with the depths – his old problem …” I didn’t came further because – unnoticed by the friend and I – a fangirl of my hubby had listened to our conversation and now interfered, telling us that we didn’t have a clue about music and we obviously didn’t know about whom we are talking and how we’d dare to criticize an artist like him?
          Honestly said: It was incredibly funny and I wonder until today if I shouldn’t have told her who I am.
          However, in my relationship to artists I think of my own experiences with “fangirls”. I of course enjoy when someone tells me he liked my books, but if this someone gives only praise to me I become sceptical, thinking “You didn’t know much about writing …” It kind of “obliterates” judgement when I feel these people overdo the praise. I certainly don’t want to hear I’m the greatest writer alive. I know I am not and besides I generally dislike such superlatives. Hence I’d never say my hubby is the greatest singer alive (despite of him being my absolute favourite singer). I’m musician enough to hear and to enjoy his strong points, but I also hear where he struggles. Nobody is perfect and especially singers have their good and their bad days. Even the really great sometimes struggle (I’ve once heard Kurt Moll fighting a bit with his Osmin. He obvioulsy had caught a cold and his voice lacked the “easyness” which actually was usual with him) – and people who can’t admit it and who see every form of critique on her star as kind of “blasphemy” I can’t take for serious.

  • Clearly Norman Lebrecht doesn’t read the terms and conditions . Even so, it should hardly come as a surprise that the tickets may be cancelled, because most venues for major events have procedures to prevent the ticket touts ( for that is what they are ) from running a rip-off market . This is not one of NL’s most edifying posts

  • Both Viagogo and the individual or organisation listing ROH tickets on are breaking the law. The law requires them to list the exact seat location (that is to say the floor level, row letter and seat number) along with the original face value of the ticket. It also requires them to make clear to any potential purchaser any terms and conditions of sale attached to the original purchase of the ticket, the resale of which could render it invalid.

  • Of course for those of a less starry eyed disposition there are still exhorbitantly priced seats available if they can put up with Monastyrska, Eyvazov and Maltman. Mind you in the highly likely absence of AN and/or JK those daft enough to pay £3,435 will get them anyway, Mr AN is already subbing during the run. I suppose they’ll not know until the curtain parts and the announcement is made that unfortunately….. A fool and his/her money are soon parted.

  • I’ll be seeing it. For £12 in a live cinema relay. Now that’s value for money. (And If one or other throws a sickie?)

  • Anna Netrebko only does 5 performances max in a run. Forza has 10 performances. All Netrebko’s completely sold out before public booking started. I haven’t seen this happen before. 4 of the 5 had sold out by early January; the fifth may have sold out when “packages” went on sale. I thought a lot of tickets (50%?) had to be held back for general/ public booking as a condition of receiving (ever-reducing) state funding. Tickets for the two performances not including either Netrebko or Kaufmann have however (as far as I can tell) not been reduced to reflect the much lower cost/popularity of the singers involved. This is mean. It looks like cross-subsidy. Not surprisingly, there’s resistance to paying very high prices for Monastyrska/ Eyvazov – many hundreds are available.

    It’s interesting that Anna is due to sing (with her husband) on 29 March in London. I wonder if they know. I wonder how many ticket-holders know!

  • This is not about art, it’s about Market only, and an insane abuse of marketing.
    Jeeze, here’s one who remembers the first Forza he attended in his life, with Arroyo, Domingo and Mastromei at the Barcelona Liceo, in the last Golden Days of the Pamiás management: standing in the top gallery = 2.000 pesetas…

  • I have never heard of any opera company so aggressively going after scalpers. I guess the Royal Opera has employees that routinely look at ticket scalping web-sites.
    I guess this is a good thing.
    At any rate, I personally would be wary of buying tickets in advance to this La Forza del Destino.
    Netrebko has cancelled there several times and Kaufmann cancels frequently all over the place.
    Good luck to anyone who actually gets to see them together.

    • You are wrong about Jonas Kaufmann. He did not cancel anything in 2018. It is grossley unfair to say that he frequently cancels. I am really hoping that he does make it to London, as I have booked to see La Forsa. Don’t forget there is also the very fine Ludovic Tezier and Christopher Maltman and Ludmilla Monastryska are fine singers. Good luck to them all.

    • ROH does not aggressively go after scalpers – and never has.

      20, 30 or more years ago, when performances were ‘sold out’ there were always small personal ads in ‘The Times’, for example, offering tickets for sale.

      You could always get a ticket if you were able/prepared to pay. These tickets often derived from corporates/sponsors.

      The current prolific secondary market reflects advances in technology and access which makes the process quicker, easier and more profitable. The same market exists for football matches, ‘pop’ concerts, West End theatre, the Proms (I’ve seen the same tout selling tickets outside the RAH since I first started going as a teenager).

      The notion that it is wrong because ROH received public subsidy is fallacious. ROH is not profiting from the inflated prices and unlikely or unable to prevent resales of tickets – it does not have the resources to do so. Probably these extreme ticket prices represent a tiny proportion of overall sales.

      Even at Bayreuth where they claim you have to prove your identity as the original purchaser before being allowed access, a large part of the audience has received or bought tickets from others (I know; I was one!).

      There are two sad parts to this story:

      – it once again portrays opera, and by implication, culture, as something only for the wealthy (a very British view). What’s a top price ticket for a Premier League match these days?

      – someone who would really enjoy the performances will not have access to those resale tickets, denied access through availability or price.

  • But is it really so bad? I took myself through 11 years in University and Conservatory by singing professionally in choirs AND standing in line in Stockholm. When Birgit Nilsson or Nicolaï Gedda were singing, there were no advance tickets to be had – one had to stand in line for the box office to open at 9 sharp in the morning. The queue formed at about 5 p.m. the day before, and one really had to be there – one’s queue number was called every hour, and a non-answer (one had to stand up, couldn’t give the answering duty to anyone else) cancelled the number. It wasn’t wholly enjoyable to stand the whole evening/night in 15 degrees minus! One could buy a maximum of 4 tickets. The queue was so long that anyone coming after 2-3 a.m. simply didn’t get any tickets. So I did the work for those that couldn’t/wouldn’t subject themselves to that ordeal, and I happen to think that the labourer is worthy of his/her hire.

    Then, again, I had the immense pleasure of having Birgit Nilsson singing for 4 days straight – for me alone – when we made that record in 1975 that put BIS on the map. What a woman!!!!! She saw that I was as nervous as one gets – this was one of my first recordings (BIS-15). So she calmly came up to me, sitting shakingly, sweat dripping, and said:
    “Look, Mr. von Bahr, I can see that you are nervous. So let’s make this easy on ourselves. If I sing like a screechy cat, I want you to tell me that – in those words. We’re here to do a job. And, by the way, my name is not Mrs Court Singer Nilsson – my name is Birgit. And yours is Robert. So let’s get on with it.”
    W H A T A M E N S C H!!!!

  • Viagogo is a scamming site, where tickets can be resold many times, leading to heartbreak at the entrance of events where they will already have been scanned. Avoid at all costs (literally).

  • Can’t help but feel that some of the negativity-mongers on this site would be singing a different tune if they’d managed to get tickets.

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