Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Period 4 - take 2

Have received an update via email from the online booking department which says :

"We are currently experiencing a cache issue on the production pages for BP4 – therefore booking is not currently possible from these pages but is fine via the calendar."


That doesn't sound like it's my computer then, does it ?

And why did they only realise this after I'd alerted them ?

So I asked for clarification that my computer was in the clear and that the problems were at their end, and all I got back was a sheepish "I’m afraid so."

I don't think the ROH do apologies, which you could almost overlook if only they would get the booking system right. I'm not sure how much more of this Friends should be expected to take. Will it take a mass cancellation of memberships before they really put in the resources needed to tackle the whole mess over the summer period before the wagon starts rolling again next season ?

I remember Tony Hall, the CEO, talking on the BBC's Any Questions programme a short while ago. He said how lucky he was that he could wander backstage any time he felt like it to watch performances by the best singers in the world (I don't ever get the impression that he is much into ballet).

Lucky Indeed.

The Any Questions website has a listen again facility for a short while.

I was struck by the unfairness of the situation the Friends face. All we are trying to do is pay to watch those same performances that Tony enjoys whenever he likes, free gratis.

I've said before that I don't think it makes economic sense for the Director of the Royal Ballet and her Assistant to sit (for free) in the Grand Tier for every performance when the Director's box is often empty and anyway, there for exactly that purpose. No-one would suggest that they should not be watching those performances; of course that's the only way to experience what the audience experiences. But the Grand Tier has only 139 seats - 137 if you take away the two which are never on sale and reserved for the Director and her Assistant.

It's one of the most popular seating areas and one of the smallest - comparable only to the number of box seats in the house. The orchestra stalls have 528, the stalls circle 287 and there are 108 box seats (presumably not including the Royal Box nor the Director's box but spread over the Grand Tier and the balcony). I would guess that the balcony (171) and the amphitheatre (700) are too far away from the stage. For reference, the remaining 324 seats are in the Lower and Upper Slips and standing places in the stalls circle, balcony, lower slips and the amphitheatre.

My final thought on this debacle is that we, the Patrons, pay for everything that goes on in the House; everything. We enable Tony Hall to watch rehearsals and performances for free. I wonder whether he has forgotten that and will only be reminded of our existence when there is not enough money to put on World Class performances ? I feel that the treatment of Friends in particular lets down the whole organisation. Certainly, the performances are world class, but the booking process is not. And it should be if it is to maintain good box office receipts.

The Royal Opera House website is currently running a reduced service and still not working properly.

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