Tickets to an opera or ballet performance entitle their holder to a red velvet seat within a grandiose espace. Reflecting on expectations for your evening before purchasing billets will ensure a pleasurable experience. Set your evening in the present or the past, choose comfort or ambience, and note the content for which you will pay.
Inside Charles Garnier's belle époque opera hall, ornate woodwork gilded in gold and the weight of a six ton chandelier provide pleasant contrast to Marc Chagall's fresco painting, washed like passing clouds atop the ceiling. From the moment discernable amid Paris' most established department stores, the opera's arresting facade begins making its impression. Entering beneath the sculpted visages of accomplished musicians, you are paraded through the ornate lobby, up wrapping staircases and into another era as you gaze down in anticipation while the spectacle unfolds below. Cheap seats aren't necessarily the bargain they appear. When labelled with limited visibility, your head may graze the rafters while you strain to steal a peek at the stage limits. It's better to stake claim on reasonably priced tickets while they're available than to suffer the discomfort of the Garnier's nosebleed seats.
Providing a stark contrast to the appearance of its older sister, the Opera Bastille is an angular eyesore lodged into a corner laden with nightlife. Once beyond the external structure, initial disappointment subsides as functional modernity resonates within the star-ship sleek interior. If the root of your interest lies in the subject matter, the spotlight is on the precise execution of operas and ballets performed within the Bastille. Rewarded with the superior acoustics of a chamber designed to suit such performances, the sober space allows the focus to rest on costumed performers framed within elaborate backdrops. Even the farthest seats offer an unimpeded window on the performance.
Visiting the Opera guichet a few days before a performance, I played all my cards. “Is there a student discount?” I asked, ready to brandish a long expired id. “No? Are there any reduced price tickets? How about inexpensive seats?” After politely exercising my French, I learned how to navigate the system. There is a book of events available onsite that includes information on the season’s performances. Request this information from the opera's concierge or inquire at the box office. A visit to the official website will allow you to purchase only the tickets released to the internet; usually those that remain are the priciest. Limited by the money you have to dispense and the frame of time in which your stay in Paris is ensconced, you can narrow the line-up to a few possibilities. One of the last few pages of the booklet contains a schedule of release dates for tickets. They are staggered: first Internet, then telephone, lastly, the box office releases tickets, each performance with its own unique timeline. If living within reach of the box office is not a luxury you share, beware that there is a charge per minute to command tickets by telephone. Desiring the best of the affordable seats, my strategy to arrive early the day the tickets become available is in place. And just like that, I’ve added another trick to my repertoire.
The night of a spectacle I doll myself up in silk pressing waves into my hair, for it is not only the performance, but also an excuse for a florid soirée that appeals to me. Divulging the secret of securing affordable seats augments access to the arts. Infuse your next visit to Paris with music, drama, and dance during a memorable soiree at the Opera Garnier or Bastille.