I believe the half hour earlier start is 7:30 (instead of 8:00). I love the intermissions being cut to one. It's nice to be able to get home a bit earlier. I think the early start and finish will work great for some (like me). For people who find getting there at 7:30 impossible and but don't mind a late finish, the other nights are a better option. I think it's a good idea to offer those optionns
In the spring 2010 season, the weeknight curtains were at 7:30, with Friday and Saturday at 8:00. I don't know if that was the first time they had made that change, but it seemed like a good idea for people who had to get to work the next morning. It appears that opening the house one hour before curtain is new this fall, but that also seems like a good idea. Now people have time to get some refreshments, stop at the gift bar, find their seats, and browse the program, which was a rush before.
In view of the numerous discussions on this board of the fiscal problems in the arts, I've been impressed with the tremendous range of innovations for the fall season of NYCB -- artist talks, tours, half-price deals, etc., etc. It's as if their board and managers (and dancers?) had a productive brainstorming session and decided to try a huge number of new approaches to attract and retain loyal audiences. Good for them! That might be what it's going to take to survive for a great many companies nowadays.