Attending a concert, play, opera, ballet…

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We asked any of you who attended a concert, a recital or any music or dance performance or stage production outside of the US in the last couple of years to tell us how you learned about it and how you obtained tickets. To that end, we requested the following of you.

State what you went to see, where it was (country, city and, if known, the venue) and approximately when you were there. Tell us how you learned about the event (from a website? newspaper? street flier?) and how you obtained tickets (from the venue’s website? box office? a ticket agency? a hotel’s travel desk?). Are there any dos and don’ts regarding purchasing event tickets? If the performance you saw was not in English, what was the experience like for you? Did you notice anything different about how the audience behaved? What advice would you give to others considering a night out in a foreign country?

Responses flooded in and will be printed over the next few months. Those shown below are mostly about events attended in Europe. You’re invited to write to Attending a Concert or Play, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, or e-mail editor@intltravelnews.com. Include the address at which you receive ITN (ITN prints letters from subscribers only). Photos always welcome!

 

My wife, Kathy, and I are great fans of the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra (36, West Portland St., Troon, Ayrshire, SCOTLAND, KA10 6AB, U.K.; www.sfo.org.uk), having first seen them on TV on PBS.

We wondered if they would be performing during our two-week trip to Scotland in May ’10, and a look at their website told us they would be at the Alhambra Theatre (33 Canmore St., Dunfermline, Scotland, KY12 7NX, U.K.; phone 01383 740384) in Dunfermline, Andrew Carnegie’s hometown.

We got booking particulars from the theater’s website and in February phoned the ticket office and bought tickets to two performances for mid May, paying by credit card. There were no service charges, and with an OAP (senior) discount we paid about £27 (near $44) per ticket for the “best available” seats. Tickets were to be picked up at the “will call” window just before each performance.

On the first night, we drove to the theater, arriving an hour early and finding a parking place on a residential street a block away. There was a park at the other end of the street and we walked within it until showtime. The tickets were available for pickup as promised. We had third-row center seats for both performances, which were excellent.

The Alhambra is a lovely, older theater. The members of the audience with whom we chatted were delightful.

Rob Sommer
Morrow, OH

 

When my wife, Diane, and I are out of town, we indulge ourselves in performances when the opportunity arises.

While walking through PRAGUE in 1997, we passed by the Czech Philharmonic Concert Hall (Alšovo nábřeží 12, 110 01 Prague 1, Czech Republic; phone +420 227 059 111, fax 059 327) and noticed a program by the Mozart Orchestra that featured several pieces I like, so we bought tickets.

In BUDAPEST, Hungary, during the same trip, we were walking back to our hotel from the zoo and noticed a line outside the State Opera House (1061 Budapest, VI., Andrássy út 22; phone +36 1 332 7914, fax +36 1 472 0449). We joined the line and had a tour of the opera house, then bought tickets there for a program of folk dances.

While in BERLIN in 2002 we discovered that a theater near our hotel was performing “Der Fledermaus” and purchased tickets at the box office. It was no problem that it was in German, since we knew the opera.

We’ve taken 11 theater tours to LONDON, most recently in 2010, arranged by a couple associated with the Center Theatre Group (Los Angeles, CA; 213/628-2772).

These were not “tours” in the traditional sense; they included our hotel arrangements and tickets to, perhaps, five plays during our 10-day stay. The rest of the time we were on our own.

We used the weekly publication Time Out to see what else was going on and also used the half-price ticket venue in Leicester Square. Another good resource is the London Theatre website.

We’ve gone to EDINBURGH, Scotland, for the Fringe Festival (box office at 180 High St.) and the Edinburgh International Festival (box office at The Hub, Castle Hill; www.eif.co.uk. Also, for both events, visit www.edinburghfestivals.co.uk) five times, most recently in 2010. Since attending first with the Center Theatre Group, we’ve done it on our own, staying in a conveniently located B&B for a few days up to almost a month.

The Fringe and International festivals run from August to early September, the Fringe starting about a week before the International. Generally, the program guides become available in May on the Web and you can purchase tickets online. Or you can go to the various venues and purchase tickets once you’re there.

Our favorite Fringe venues are the Assembly Rooms, Pleasance Theatre, Gilded Balloon, UnderBelly, Traverse Theatre and The Stand Comedy Club. Not only is the entertainment at these generally first class but there are excellent restaurants nearby. You can see your first show around noon and be entertained as late into the day as you wish.

Fringe Festival events go on literally all day, while performances at the International Festival are at “standard” times, such as 2 o’clock for afternoon matinees and 8:00 for evening performances.

The Fringe has a lot of professional performers just entering show business, but you’ll also find well-known, first-class talent there because they enjoy the festival’s casual atmosphere.

Offerings at the International Festival are strictly professional — renowned symphony orchestras, ballet companies, touring companies, etc.

Don Thompson
Garden Grove, CA

 

I have traveled overseas many times since 1973 and have seen plays and other types of shows in many countries.

In LONDON, I have purchased tickets to first-run plays both ahead of time and upon my arrival. Buying tickets upon arrival, I generally have found success in getting into the plays I wanted to see, with adequate seat positioning.

We saw “Tosca” in Prague with about 40 others on a 2006 trip with Elderhostel (now Road Scholar, 11 Avenue de Lafayette, Boston, MA 02111; 800/454-5768). I suspect the local guide had ordered a number of reservations ahead, knowing that most of the tour group would want to see this opera.

If you visit EDINBURGH during August, the time of the International Festival and the Fringe, there are plays, musicals, concerts and other forms of shows every night, with most of the tickets still up for grabs the same day as the production.

However, it usually requires advance planning to attend the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (32 Market St., Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 1QB, U.K.; for info, fax +44 [0] 131 225 8627 or for tickets, phone 131 225 1188).

On my first trip to Australia, our group enjoyed an amateur production of “Guys and Dolls” in a church in Melbourne. I remember it with great satisfaction. Amateur performances are usually available at minimal cost in various cities throughout the world; you don’t have to do a “big bucks show” to have a delightful evening.

Philip H. De Turk
Pinehurst, NC

 

After enjoying a phenomenal performance of “Giselle” by the San Francisco Ballet earlier in the year, my husband and I thought a ballet during our June ’11 visit to LONDON would be fun. We were fortunate to catch the last performance of “Manon” by the London Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD, U.K.; box office phone 020 7304 4000). We paid $253 for two tickets. It was excellent.

For this performance, I searched the Internet and reserved tickets directly on the opera house’s website; there was a seating chart and it was very easy to do. I noticed there were many agencies online selling the same tickets but with an added fee, so being sure one is on the official site might be something to keep in mind. We picked the tickets up from the box office an hour before the performance without any difficulties.

On a whim, while in London we also attended two plays: the musical “Jersey Boys” and Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” in 2011 in its 58th year.

For those two shows, we booked the day before through our hotel, Days Inn Hyde Park (148-152 Sussex Gardens, London, W2 1UD, U.K.; phone 44 20 7723 2939, fax 44 20 7723 6225 — rooms, £125-£170 [near $205-$280]). The concierge was more than helpful in helping us select seats and charged £1 per person for the service. We picked up the tickets at the box office before the play.

I imagine you can also book these tickets directly through the Internet, but since a WiFi connection cost £5 a day at that hotel, paying the concierge worked out better for us.

While passing through the Underground, we saw advertisements for the musical extravaganza “Forever Gershwin” by the National Ballet Company. Seeing a picture of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on the poster, we couldn’t resist.

We booked a week ahead directly through the user-friendly website of Royal Albert Hall (Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP, U.K.; phone 0845 401 5045) and felt lucky to snap up the last pair of tickets for seats together ($195 for two). We claimed them at the box office before the show. The performance was great and the hall, beautiful.

For the Royal Opera House and Royal Albert Hall, I advise making reservations as far ahead as possible. Even booking three months ahead for the ballet, we found the better seats to be pretty scarce, especially for the evening performances. (Both venues offer tickets cheaper than those we bought.)

Planning for Poland in summer 2010, we saw advertisements for Chopin concerts in WARSAW and prebooked one through the travel agency we were using. On the evening of the show, a bus went to four or five hotels to pick up concert attendees. At one place, we all waited while the bus driver searched for the people. By this time, it was five minutes to performance time. Anxious, what we didn’t know was that there was only one performance and the venue would simply hold the curtain until we all got there.

As it turned out, the concert, in my opinion, was mediocre and hardly worth all the time wasted in going from hotel to hotel.

Days later in KRAKÓW, we attended a concert almost every night. The venues were in historical buildings and the music was excellent, so it was a feast for the senses. There was even a free performance in the Jewish Ghetto one afternoon.

Most of the concerts were within walking distance of the hotels in or near the Old Town, and it wasn’t necessary to purchase tickets ahead of time; you could get them at the door or at a central ticket office. Had we known how easy it was to attend concerts in Kraków, we wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of arranging to see a show in Warsaw.

Nancy Tan
Fresno, CA

 

While visiting ISTANBUL in December ’10, we attended a performance of the Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes at the Hocapaşa (Hodjapasha) Culture Center (Ankara Caddesi, Hocapasa Hamam Sok No: 3.B, Sirkeci, Istanbul, Turkey; phone +90 212 511 46 26, fax 212 661 1968), near Sirkeci Station.

We found the information on them on Tom Brosnahan’s excellent website on Turkey, www.turkeytravelplanner.com, but we also found brochures at our hotel. The hotel made reservations for us.

Since the dervishes are basically performing a religious ceremony, the audience was extremely quiet, reserved and respectful. The cost was TRY40, about $24.

LONDON is one of my favorite travel destinations, and we always attend the theater, concerts and (occasionally) opera while there. For the theater, we check www.londontheatre.co.uk beforehand to decide what we want to see and what tickets, if any, we want to order in advance. For those absolute “musts,” we call beforehand; for others, we wait until arriving.

The first day in London, we go to theaters and buy tickets for those shows not on the half-price list. For those on the list, we wait until the day of the performance and buy tickets at the half-price booth at Leicester Square.

English audiences are a little more restrained than Americans in expressing their appreciation. A friend of mine in London who was an actor once said, “When we get a standing ovation, we don’t think, ‘Oh, I was really good tonight,’ but, rather, ‘Oh, there are a lot of Americans in the audience tonight’.”

For concerts at Saint-Martin-in-the-Fields (Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 433, U.K.; phone 020 7766 1100, fax 020 7389 0773) or St. James’s Church (197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL, U.K.; phone 020 7734 4511, fax 020 7734 7449), we usually buy tickets the day of the performance or sometimes a day or two beforehand. We also attend many Evensong services. The choir music is beautiful.

Vicki Schell
Pensacola, FL

 

On a trip to Turkey with Overseas Adventure Travel (Cambridge, MA; 800/493-6824) in May ’09, our program director, Övünç Özdemir, asked the six of us on the post-trip in ISTANBUL if we wanted to accompany her and her husband to a performance of “Troya.” This is the story of the Trojan War enacted in music and dance. Of course, we didn’t hesitate to say “Yes!”

Övünç purchased the tickets for us for $65 each and for $110 arranged for a van to pick us all up at our hotel. As we left the van, the driver indicated where he would pick us up, and two of the men wrote the license plate number on the palms of their hands.

When we entered the theater lobby to wait for Övünç and her husband, we six Americans became instant hits with the young members of a local football (soccer) team. They asked us to autograph their jerseys and have our pictures taken with them. Their English was very limited, but our method for storing the license plate number got quite a laugh.

The show was amazing. We didn’t understand one word of it, but we did manage to interpret the story of the Trojan War.

We all agreed that we were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to see this wonderful production and fabulous cast.

Marcia Weinick
Boynton Beach, FL

 

A business trip to Amsterdam around 2000 corresponded with the annual Utrecht Early Music Festival, or Festival Oudemuziek (Mariaplaats 23, UTRECHT, Netherlands; info phone +31 [0] 30 23 29 000, info fax 23 29 001, box office phone 23 29 010), in early September. It was a short train ride away and I was able to take a day off to attend.

On that one day I listened to two formal concerts (ticket required) and four fringe concerts (usually free student performances held in a smaller venue). Unfortunately, tickets for the previous night’s opening gala concert were sold out, but I was able to get tickets at the festival box office for all of the day’s ticketed events. (In 2011, tickets cost about €15 per performance.)

I also walked through the exhibits looking at the various instruments for sale. (“How much is that krumm­horn in the window?”)

While I was able to attend only one day of the week-long event, I came away “fully saturated” with some very well performed, unusual music.

David Emery
Reston, VA

 

What a great question! Ever since my husband and I attended a marvelous Vivaldi concert performed on antique instruments in a church in Venice about eight years ago (we noticed a flier in a storefront on the Piazza San Marco), we always seek to go to a concert or ballet while traveling.

In June ’11 we attended a concert in BARCELONA at the Palau de la Música Catalana (C/Sant Pere Més Alt, s/n, 08003 Barcelona, Spain; phone 00 34 902 442 882, fax 00 34 93 295 7208). We were just walking and spied this marvelous, ornate theater, so we went to the box office and bought tickets for that same evening.

In LISBON, Portugal, also this June, we went to an amazing, free, “four-handed piano” concert (two pianists on the same instrument) in the spectacular, palace-like National Theatre D. Maria II (Praca Dom Pedro IV, 1100-201 Lisbon, Portugal; phone +351 213 250 835, fax 250 866). Celebrating 20 years of Croatian independence, the lively concert included interpretations of 20th-century Croatian music, though we felt the best piece of the evening was Ravel’s “Bolero.”

We learned about this concert from the man who checked us in at our hotel. We asked him to let us know about any unusual or interesting concerts. Apparently, the Tourist Information center sends e-mails to hotels about events like this, which often come up unexpectedly.

Dorothy Leeds
New York, NY

 

I was in PARIS wandering the back streets of Île de la Cité in 2003. An American woman stopped me and asked if I knew the location of the cathedral of Sainte-Chapelle (4 Blvd du Palais, 75001 Paris, France; phone 01 53 40 60 80, fax 40 60 90, — subway: Cité).

I proceeded to escort her down rue de Lutèce and together we approached this lovely Gothic chapel that had been consecrated in 1248. (It is difficult to find, since it is surrounded by more-modern buildings that seem to be occupied by the police.)

As we walked, she told me she was going to attend a performance of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” by a Paris string septet.

I decided that since I had never been inside Sainte-Chapelle and since I very much like Vivaldi, I would pay the 20-euro admission price and give it a shot.

The sun was setting, sending glorious color through the small chapel’s tall stained-glass windows. The music was transporting. It was one of the most sublime experiences I have ever had.

And it all was the result of a chance meeting in a foreign city.

James W. Ure
Salt Lake City, UT

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

We asked any of you who attended a concert, a recital or any music or dance performance or stage production outside of the US in the last couple of years to tell us how you learned about it and how you obtained tickets. To that end, we requested the following of you.

State what you went to see, where it was (country, city and, if known, the venue) and approximately when you were there. Tell us how you learned about the event (from a website? newspaper? street flier?) and how you obtained tickets (from the venue’s website? box office? a ticket agency? a hotel’s travel desk?). Are there any dos and don’ts regarding purchasing event tickets? If the performance you saw was not in English, what was the experience like for you? Did you notice anything different about how the audience behaved? What advice would you give to others considering a night out in a foreign country?

Responses flooded in and will be printed over the next few months. Those shown below are mostly about events attended in Europe. You’re invited to write to Attending a Concert or Play, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818, or e-mail editor@intltravelnews.com. Include the address at which you receive ITN (ITN prints letters from subscribers only). Photos always welcome!

 

My wife, Kathy, and I are great fans of the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra (36, West Portland St., Troon, Ayrshire, SCOTLAND, KA10 6AB, U.K.; www.sfo.org.uk), having first seen them on TV on PBS.

We wondered if they would be performing during our two-week trip to Scotland in May ’10, and a look at their website told us they would be at the Alhambra Theatre (33 Canmore St., Dunfermline, Scotland, KY12 7NX, U.K.; phone 01383 740384) in Dunfermline, Andrew Carnegie’s hometown.

We got booking particulars from the theater’s website and in February phoned the ticket office and bought tickets to two performances for mid May, paying by credit card. There were no service charges, and with an OAP (senior) discount we paid about £27 (near $44) per ticket for the “best available” seats. Tickets were to be picked up at the “will call” window just before each performance.

On the first night, we drove to the theater, arriving an hour early and finding a parking place on a residential street a block away. There was a park at the other end of the street and we walked within it until showtime. The tickets were available for pickup as promised. We had third-row center seats for both performances, which were excellent.

The Alhambra is a lovely, older theater. The members of the audience with whom we chatted were delightful.

Rob Sommer
Morrow, OH

 

When my wife, Diane, and I are out of town, we indulge ourselves in performances when the opportunity arises.

While walking through PRAGUE in 1997, we passed by the Czech Philharmonic Concert Hall (Alšovo nábřeží 12, 110 01 Prague 1, Czech Republic; phone +420 227 059 111, fax 059 327) and noticed a program by the Mozart Orchestra that featured several pieces I like, so we bought tickets.

In BUDAPEST, Hungary, during the same trip, we were walking back to our hotel from the zoo and noticed a line outside the State Opera House (1061 Budapest, VI., Andrássy út 22; phone +36 1 332 7914, fax +36 1 472 0449). We joined the line and had a tour of the opera house, then bought tickets there for a program of folk dances.

While in BERLIN in 2002 we discovered that a theater near our hotel was performing “Der Fledermaus” and purchased tickets at the box office. It was no problem that it was in German, since we knew the opera.

We’ve taken 11 theater tours to LONDON, most recently in 2010, arranged by a couple associated with the Center Theatre Group (Los Angeles, CA; 213/628-2772).

These were not “tours” in the traditional sense; they included our hotel arrangements and tickets to, perhaps, five plays during our 10-day stay. The rest of the time we were on our own.

We used the weekly publication Time Out to see what else was going on and also used the half-price ticket venue in Leicester Square. Another good resource is the London Theatre website.

We’ve gone to EDINBURGH, Scotland, for the Fringe Festival (box office at 180 High St.) and the Edinburgh International Festival (box office at The Hub, Castle Hill; www.eif.co.uk. Also, for both events, visit www.edinburghfestivals.co.uk) five times, most recently in 2010. Since attending first with the Center Theatre Group, we’ve done it on our own, staying in a conveniently located B&B for a few days up to almost a month.

The Fringe and International festivals run from August to early September, the Fringe starting about a week before the International. Generally, the program guides become available in May on the Web and you can purchase tickets online. Or you can go to the various venues and purchase tickets once you’re there.

Our favorite Fringe venues are the Assembly Rooms, Pleasance Theatre, Gilded Balloon, UnderBelly, Traverse Theatre and The Stand Comedy Club. Not only is the entertainment at these generally first class but there are excellent restaurants nearby. You can see your first show around noon and be entertained as late into the day as you wish.

Fringe Festival events go on literally all day, while performances at the International Festival are at “standard” times, such as 2 o’clock for afternoon matinees and 8:00 for evening performances.

The Fringe has a lot of professional performers just entering show business, but you’ll also find well-known, first-class talent there because they enjoy the festival’s casual atmosphere.

Offerings at the International Festival are strictly professional — renowned symphony orchestras, ballet companies, touring companies, etc.

Don Thompson
Garden Grove, CA

 

I have traveled overseas many times since 1973 and have seen plays and other types of shows in many countries.

In LONDON, I have purchased tickets to first-run plays both ahead of time and upon my arrival. Buying tickets upon arrival, I generally have found success in getting into the plays I wanted to see, with adequate seat positioning.

We saw “Tosca” in Prague with about 40 others on a 2006 trip with Elderhostel (now Road Scholar, 11 Avenue de Lafayette, Boston, MA 02111; 800/454-5768). I suspect the local guide had ordered a number of reservations ahead, knowing that most of the tour group would want to see this opera.

If you visit EDINBURGH during August, the time of the International Festival and the Fringe, there are plays, musicals, concerts and other forms of shows every night, with most of the tickets still up for grabs the same day as the production.

However, it usually requires advance planning to attend the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (32 Market St., Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 1QB, U.K.; for info, fax +44 [0] 131 225 8627 or for tickets, phone 131 225 1188).

On my first trip to Australia, our group enjoyed an amateur production of “Guys and Dolls” in a church in Melbourne. I remember it with great satisfaction. Amateur performances are usually available at minimal cost in various cities throughout the world; you don’t have to do a “big bucks show” to have a delightful evening.

Philip H. De Turk
Pinehurst, NC

 

After enjoying a phenomenal performance of “Giselle” by the San Francisco Ballet earlier in the year, my husband and I thought a ballet during our June ’11 visit to LONDON would be fun. We were fortunate to catch the last performance of “Manon” by the London Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD, U.K.; box office phone 020 7304 4000). We paid $253 for two tickets. It was excellent.

For this performance, I searched the Internet and reserved tickets directly on the opera house’s website; there was a seating chart and it was very easy to do. I noticed there were many agencies online selling the same tickets but with an added fee, so being sure one is on the official site might be something to keep in mind. We picked the tickets up from the box office an hour before the performance without any difficulties.

On a whim, while in London we also attended two plays: the musical “Jersey Boys” and Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” in 2011 in its 58th year.

For those two shows, we booked the day before through our hotel, Days Inn Hyde Park (148-152 Sussex Gardens, London, W2 1UD, U.K.; phone 44 20 7723 2939, fax 44 20 7723 6225 — rooms, £125-£170 [near $205-$280]). The concierge was more than helpful in helping us select seats and charged £1 per person for the service. We picked up the tickets at the box office before the play.

I imagine you can also book these tickets directly through the Internet, but since a WiFi connection cost £5 a day at that hotel, paying the concierge worked out better for us.

While passing through the Underground, we saw advertisements for the musical extravaganza “Forever Gershwin” by the National Ballet Company. Seeing a picture of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on the poster, we couldn’t resist.

We booked a week ahead directly through the user-friendly website of Royal Albert Hall (Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP, U.K.; phone 0845 401 5045) and felt lucky to snap up the last pair of tickets for seats together ($195 for two). We claimed them at the box office before the show. The performance was great and the hall, beautiful.

For the Royal Opera House and Royal Albert Hall, I advise making reservations as far ahead as possible. Even booking three months ahead for the ballet, we found the better seats to be pretty scarce, especially for the evening performances. (Both venues offer tickets cheaper than those we bought.)

Planning for Poland in summer 2010, we saw advertisements for Chopin concerts in WARSAW and prebooked one through the travel agency we were using. On the evening of the show, a bus went to four or five hotels to pick up concert attendees. At one place, we all waited while the bus driver searched for the people. By this time, it was five minutes to performance time. Anxious, what we didn’t know was that there was only one performance and the venue would simply hold the curtain until we all got there.

As it turned out, the concert, in my opinion, was mediocre and hardly worth all the time wasted in going from hotel to hotel.

Days later in KRAKÓW, we attended a concert almost every night. The venues were in historical buildings and the music was excellent, so it was a feast for the senses. There was even a free performance in the Jewish Ghetto one afternoon.

Most of the concerts were within walking distance of the hotels in or near the Old Town, and it wasn’t necessary to purchase tickets ahead of time; you could get them at the door or at a central ticket office. Had we known how easy it was to attend concerts in Kraków, we wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of arranging to see a show in Warsaw.

Nancy Tan
Fresno, CA

 

While visiting ISTANBUL in December ’10, we attended a performance of the Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes at the Hocapaşa (Hodjapasha) Culture Center (Ankara Caddesi, Hocapasa Hamam Sok No: 3.B, Sirkeci, Istanbul, Turkey; phone +90 212 511 46 26, fax 212 661 1968), near Sirkeci Station.

We found the information on them on Tom Brosnahan’s excellent website on Turkey, www.turkeytravelplanner.com, but we also found brochures at our hotel. The hotel made reservations for us.

Since the dervishes are basically performing a religious ceremony, the audience was extremely quiet, reserved and respectful. The cost was TRY40, about $24.

LONDON is one of my favorite travel destinations, and we always attend the theater, concerts and (occasionally) opera while there. For the theater, we check www.londontheatre.co.uk beforehand to decide what we want to see and what tickets, if any, we want to order in advance. For those absolute “musts,” we call beforehand; for others, we wait until arriving.

The first day in London, we go to theaters and buy tickets for those shows not on the half-price list. For those on the list, we wait until the day of the performance and buy tickets at the half-price booth at Leicester Square.

English audiences are a little more restrained than Americans in expressing their appreciation. A friend of mine in London who was an actor once said, “When we get a standing ovation, we don’t think, ‘Oh, I was really good tonight,’ but, rather, ‘Oh, there are a lot of Americans in the audience tonight’.”

For concerts at Saint-Martin-in-the-Fields (Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 433, U.K.; phone 020 7766 1100, fax 020 7389 0773) or St. James’s Church (197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL, U.K.; phone 020 7734 4511, fax 020 7734 7449), we usually buy tickets the day of the performance or sometimes a day or two beforehand. We also attend many Evensong services. The choir music is beautiful.

Vicki Schell
Pensacola, FL

 

On a trip to Turkey with Overseas Adventure Travel (Cambridge, MA; 800/493-6824) in May ’09, our program director, Övünç Özdemir, asked the six of us on the post-trip in ISTANBUL if we wanted to accompany her and her husband to a performance of “Troya.” This is the story of the Trojan War enacted in music and dance. Of course, we didn’t hesitate to say “Yes!”

Övünç purchased the tickets for us for $65 each and for $110 arranged for a van to pick us all up at our hotel. As we left the van, the driver indicated where he would pick us up, and two of the men wrote the license plate number on the palms of their hands.

When we entered the theater lobby to wait for Övünç and her husband, we six Americans became instant hits with the young members of a local football (soccer) team. They asked us to autograph their jerseys and have our pictures taken with them. Their English was very limited, but our method for storing the license plate number got quite a laugh.

The show was amazing. We didn’t understand one word of it, but we did manage to interpret the story of the Trojan War.

We all agreed that we were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to see this wonderful production and fabulous cast.

Marcia Weinick
Boynton Beach, FL

 

A business trip to Amsterdam around 2000 corresponded with the annual Utrecht Early Music Festival, or Festival Oudemuziek (Mariaplaats 23, UTRECHT, Netherlands; info phone +31 [0] 30 23 29 000, info fax 23 29 001, box office phone 23 29 010), in early September. It was a short train ride away and I was able to take a day off to attend.

On that one day I listened to two formal concerts (ticket required) and four fringe concerts (usually free student performances held in a smaller venue). Unfortunately, tickets for the previous night’s opening gala concert were sold out, but I was able to get tickets at the festival box office for all of the day’s ticketed events. (In 2011, tickets cost about €15 per performance.)

I also walked through the exhibits looking at the various instruments for sale. (“How much is that krumm­horn in the window?”)

While I was able to attend only one day of the week-long event, I came away “fully saturated” with some very well performed, unusual music.

David Emery
Reston, VA

 

What a great question! Ever since my husband and I attended a marvelous Vivaldi concert performed on antique instruments in a church in Venice about eight years ago (we noticed a flier in a storefront on the Piazza San Marco), we always seek to go to a concert or ballet while traveling.

In June ’11 we attended a concert in BARCELONA at the Palau de la Música Catalana (C/Sant Pere Més Alt, s/n, 08003 Barcelona, Spain; phone 00 34 902 442 882, fax 00 34 93 295 7208). We were just walking and spied this marvelous, ornate theater, so we went to the box office and bought tickets for that same evening.

In LISBON, Portugal, also this June, we went to an amazing, free, “four-handed piano” concert (two pianists on the same instrument) in the spectacular, palace-like National Theatre D. Maria II (Praca Dom Pedro IV, 1100-201 Lisbon, Portugal; phone +351 213 250 835, fax 250 866). Celebrating 20 years of Croatian independence, the lively concert included interpretations of 20th-century Croatian music, though we felt the best piece of the evening was Ravel’s “Bolero.”

We learned about this concert from the man who checked us in at our hotel. We asked him to let us know about any unusual or interesting concerts. Apparently, the Tourist Information center sends e-mails to hotels about events like this, which often come up unexpectedly.

Dorothy Leeds
New York, NY

 

I was in PARIS wandering the back streets of Île de la Cité in 2003. An American woman stopped me and asked if I knew the location of the cathedral of Sainte-Chapelle (4 Blvd du Palais, 75001 Paris, France; phone 01 53 40 60 80, fax 40 60 90, — subway: Cité).

I proceeded to escort her down rue de Lutèce and together we approached this lovely Gothic chapel that had been consecrated in 1248. (It is difficult to find, since it is surrounded by more-modern buildings that seem to be occupied by the police.)

As we walked, she told me she was going to attend a performance of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” by a Paris string septet.

I decided that since I had never been inside Sainte-Chapelle and since I very much like Vivaldi, I would pay the 20-euro admission price and give it a shot.

The sun was setting, sending glorious color through the small chapel’s tall stained-glass windows. The music was transporting. It was one of the most sublime experiences I have ever had.

And it all was the result of a chance meeting in a foreign city.

James W. Ure
Salt Lake City, UT