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Ballet subscriptions

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Generally speaking a subscription to these kinds of performances consists of different selections of ballets/operas/musical selections (in the symphony sort) that are placed in subsets such as Tuesday nights, which are less expensive than Fridays, etc. There are also other subsets with titles such as "All Robbins Night" (as in Jerome) or "4 Classics by Petipa" ..... In other words, the subscriber is given a number of choices from which to choose, whether they are based on day of the week, or subject matter. Sometimes subscriptions are geared towards attracting new subscribers or families with children...so the choices within these subscriptions will be tailored to what the company's marketing department feel is appropriate. Some subscriptions may be 2, 3, 4 or more performances throughout the season.

Why subscribe? You get the best choice in seating, there is usually a slightly cheaper price per ticket, and if you keep re-subscribing you can even keep the seats you had, if you like them, for the next season! The other "perk" is that if you are a subscriber, you can exchange your tickets on a certain day for another day if needs be...Which is something I have to do myself for this spring!

Each company will have a brochure that will outline all the details and explain the benefits of subscribing. You need to read them carefully - for example NYCB has a "Fourth Ring Society" and the ticket prices are very, very low...

The other plus about a subscription is that you KNOW you're going to get in the door! :)

So there's my long winded, somewhat convoluted, answer - hope it wasn't too confusing!:D

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One more reason for subscribing, although this one can be a double-edged sword: You generally know who will be seated around you.

It makes it much easier to strike up conversations while waiting for the curtain go up, especially important if you are, like we are, chronically early for everything. Our Sunday matinee seats for the Michigan Opera Theater are surrounded by ladies in their 70s and 80s--generally lovely people who have been going to the opera and ballet for 50 years or so and who are a joy to talk with.

If one is seated in front of a talker or a rustler, of course, it could be a problem. But, as BW pointed out, one of the reasons to subscribe is that you can switch your seats.

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You know, Ed, that is an excellent point to bring up. I never really thought about it that much but this past winter season after my first night, I began to become a bit nervous about my neighbor...he was especially talkative and a bit too much so...you know "inquiring minds want to know" but I soon discovered he was actually a good soul and never uttered one word during the performance! :) I had one close call when he attempted to kiss me good bye - but after a quick exit maneuver that one never happened again!

The only thing you must be aware of is that sometimes, as in the case of ABT's season coming up, unless you actually go to the box office to exchange your tickets you can be hit with a hefty per ticket fee making these changes.

All in all, if one can afford to subscribe and likes the choices, it's worth it in my opinion - even though it seems awfully hard to project one's schedule so far in advance. And usually one's seat mates are quite pleasant.:)

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a seat mate tale:

My second year as a subscriber at the Kennedy Center, the people behind me were Senator and Mrs. Fulbright. I was, of course, thrilled to be in such august company. Every time I saw them, at one point in the evening -- maybe after the first ballet, maybe after the second -- he'd say to her, "Now, that was real purty, honey." [i'm sure he did it with a pat on the hand.] I was fond of the Senator for his international affairs policies, but I loved him for that line :)

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I second what Ed said. My husband and I have been subscribers to Lyric Opera in Chicago for more years than I care to count. We've moved once within the section of the theater where we sit, and we know many people around our "new" seats and our former ones. It's great to be able to discuss the work you're seeing with others who share your love of the art and who have witnessed the same performances that you have.

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Usually one can change the tickets after a certain period of time either in person, or through the mail...and I believe if one is a member of a certain level, one may even be able to call to change one's tickets.

In my most recent case, I had to either mail in the old ones with several choices for alternate dates, incur a handling fee per ticket, or go to the box office. Keep in mind, that both of these avenues are also usually subject to certain dates.

As far as I know, no company will allow you to get your money back if you suddenly can't make it to a performance. However, you can make it a charitable contribution! :)

The pros of subscribing are getting the best seats. I had great seats for this coming season....now my new seats aren't so wonderful...because they'd opened up the performances to everyone quite a while ago....

So to hedge your bets, read the details carefully!:)

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To try specifically answer your questions is sort of impossible, each company is different. We have 2 sets of subscripitons to the NYCB (both Thursday subscriptions). We have been renewing them for over 30 years. One set is 4th row center, the other is 5th row center. Most of the people sitting around us have had the same subscriptions and we have become acquaintances with some of them. NYCB tickets are just a multiple of the normal price. No discount, in fact thay ask for an extra contribution. The NYCB box office is very accomodating. They will gladly exchange tickets in advance and will try to give you similar seats. Of course that is rarely possible becuase of the seats we have are rarely available.

Other companies and theaters have different arrangements. For example the Joyce Theater offers a 40% discount if you buy tickets to 4 different companies during a season. Once you do that and are a "member" you can continue to buy tickets at 40% off for that season. We plan on doing it for the summer season as they have Streb, Polobilus, Ballet Tech and the Trocks as well as some others.

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Cliff -- I see you are from Chicago, so I can help you out here. Subscription tickets to the Joffrey can easily be exchanged at the Auditorium box office, free of charge. I just did it for last week's performance. Since the Auditorium is so large, we had no trouble getting comparable seats on a different day. If you are a plan-ahead type, you can also use the envelope/order form that comes with the tickets to send them back to the Joffrey offices for exchange. I don't know if there is a fee for this. As others have noted, if you cancel you cannot get a refund -- but you CAN donate the tickets back to the company and count it as a charitable contribution. Or you can give them to your friends, students at the nearest ballet school, acquaintances from Ballet Alert ....;) :)

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