Stuttgart Opera vs. Met Ticket Prices
January 19, 2001
I provide here some documented information about opera ticket prices in Germany, since I used it as a comparison with the Met's.
My information is from the web site of the Stuttgart Opera, which can be taken as a standard for Germany's best houses. For two years running it has been selected as the best opera house in Germany by a panel of international specialists. Stuttgart's tickets range from 8 to 70 dollars (16 to 142 German marks.) For documentation see <http://www.staatstheater.stuttgart.de>
The tickets in Stuttgart are about the same price as the other top houses in Germany. From their seating plan I roughly estimate that the average ticket is around 35 to 40 dollars. That makes the average price of a ticket at the Met at least four times more expensive.
The Stuttgart Opera is part of the Baden-Wuerttemberg State Theater which owns a collection of halls to house the State Radio Symphony Orchestra, various spoken theater troupes and the world famous Stuttgarter Ballet. All are owned, operated and funded by the State. Private donations are seldom and negligible. All operate year round. All of the artists receive excellent, full time salaries, health benefits and pensions. The population of Stuttgart is about five hundred thousand, or one 16th the size of New York City.
When was the last time you had an orchestra level seat for opera in all of its glory, performed by a top notch professional ensemble in a real, fully equipped opera house? Do you even plan to experience that in your life time? In Stuttgart it would cost a couple $160 for the two best seats in the house. Two truly excellent floor level seats could be obtained for $60.
Ashcroft may be right that opera (in the US) draws the "Mercedes crowd," but that is largely due to the cultural policies politicians of his ilk propagate -- policies that can fairly be described as culturally and politically repressive. Obviously, this represents a serious socio-cultural problem that is not ameliorated because some people are content to sit in the Met's peanut gallery while only the wealthy can regularly afford even the average priced seats.