European festivals for procrastinators

If you’re hoping to go to the Munich Opera Festival or the Salzburg Festival and don’t have your tickets yet, some important dates are coming up. Tickets not sold in the written order presale will go on sale tomorrow (March 24) at 10:00 sharp German time for Munich and on March 30 for Salzburg (exact time not specified but it might be 8:30 or 9:30, when the physical box offices open?). If you’re in North America, be aware that Daylight Savings Time hasn’t started yet in Europe, so tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Germany means 5 a.m. in New York (urrrrgh). Their clocks, however, change this weekend, so 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 30 in Salzburg will be 3:30 a.m. in New York, making it even more fun. Got it?

Munich’s Ring and Salzburg’s Bohème sold clean out in presale–the dual operatic gods Wagner and Anna Netrebko do that–, but if you’re fast you might be able to nab one of the few remaining tickets to some other popular events. Munich authority Rossignol advises to be particularly quick on the warhorses, considering the Bay Staats is light in this department this summer and demand will surely be high.

Remember, neither of these festivals reserve any day tickets, not even standing–everything is going out there now. But in my experience, a few tickets for Munich productions almost always pop up on the box office website a few days before the performance (even when the opera house’s website lists an event as sold out), but only in the most expensive price categories. And you can always stop by the ticket office in Salzburg and see what they can do for you. Or show up a half hour early to mix with the Kartenbörse hoards that congregate on the portico in Munich and in the pedestrian zone in Salzburg, bring some cash, and do your best. The Bayerische Staatsoper also has an online forum where some people sell or trade tickets, including the odd Salzburg ticket as well.

Of course, not all events sell out well in advance. Some chamber music and drama at Salzburg and ballet in Munich are readily accessible. So if you aren’t picky you’ll be able to get something, but don’t expect a whole lot of choice.

I had my shit together for once and got everything I ordered. (*looks very smug* Everyone else I know who applied for the Munich Ring got turned down but I got cycle B.) But I was stupid and didn’t order Traviata or the Calleja-Gheorghiu Bohème in Munich, so I’ll be scrambling very early tomorrow morning with the rest of y’all.

You could also go to one of the many scalpers ticket agencies, but be prepared to pay a big markup.

Bonus: Public booking for the summer season at the Royal Opera House, whose website’s Waiting Room has to be the single most annoying element of online opera ticket sales, begins on 10 April. (*looks even more smug* Some of us have already sorted our tickets for that one too.)

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  1. Hm… i actually strongly approve of the waiting room, once you are in, plenty of time to sort out seats and there is no risk or very little of it of clicking on seats that are already booked and so on, it avoids the site being overloaded etc. Wheras i hate the BSO system in every way possible. They are rude and customer service has not yet been invented there. There is no control over how many seats come on sale and how they do their "allocation" on preordered tickets and i have even on the odd chance of getting something, no control over where i sit and exactly what price i pay, which always ends up with a combination of too expensive for my taste and too bad a view. Which never happens to me at the ROH for example. But i think we all have our preferences as to how we want ticket sales to work. I personally prefer to be in control of seat choice and price. Salzburg i found somewhat better than Munich, their staff at least is much friendlier and forthcoming and one can inquire and find out things.

  2. I think what makes the Waiting Room soooo annoying to me is that it's a simple problem that just shouldn't happen–they should just get enough damn servers that they can handle the traffic. (On a booking day you get stuck in the waiting room even if you just want to check something on the website, not even buy tickets.) The Munich system is very far from ideal but changing it would mean tinkering with a lot of old traditions and IT changes much more extensive than just upping the capacity.

  3. yes, but booking day only happens maybe 20 tims a year, it's silly to pay for server that don't get used 98% of the time. And the waiting room trickels down sales a bit for people who cannot be on the spot at the exact time 🙂 But i am sure the solution they are working on will give some relief in terms of waiting room. And then probably some people will want it back. I think we opera fans have a general problem with accepting that for the most popular shows demand will always far outweigh the ticket offer and thus there is no system in the world to make us all happy 🙂 I can only hope the new one at the ROH will keep me as happy as they have until now ;-)))

  4. I understand there were 20,000 applications for the Ring Cycles, so over-subscibed x 5. What I find difficult to accept in Munich is that the scalpers, hotels and agencies always seem to have allocations.Perhaps,more transparency should be forced on them in the same way as has happened with Bayreuth, given the level of public subsidy they receive.