Attending a concert, play, opera, ballet…

This item appears on page 43 of the November 2011 issue.
This is subscriber only post.
Get one year of online-only access — only $15!
Below is a sample of the article.
Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

If you would like to read an issue from the archives that is free to nonsubscribers click here.

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. We requested the following.

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 (website? newspaper? street flier?) and how you obtained tickets (venue’s website? box office? hotel 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?

We printed a few responses last month, and more are coming. Those shown below are mostly about events attended in Germany, Austria and Italy. Send your report 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 are always welcome!

 

When my husband, Kenneth, and I arrived in BERLIN in July ’10, our first stop was the tourist office to purchase a CityTourCard. (Buy it online or find locations to buy it in Berlin — 48-hour card, €15.90 [near $21]; five-day card, €28.90.) The card would give us a five-day transit pass plus discounts at many entertainment and cultural venues.

At the tourist office, we picked up a schedule for the Deutsche Oper Berlin (Bismarckstrasse 35, 10627 Berlin, Germany; phone +49 [0] 30 343 84 01, fax 343 84 232). “Carmen” and “La Bohème” were on the schedule, and we decided we were familiar enough with both operas that we could enjoy either of them without translation. (Our German wasn’t good enough to get much out of the German supertitles.)

A couple of days before the performance, Kenneth and I activated our cards and used them to take the train to the opera for free and to buy tickets for “La Bohème” at a 20% discount. (In 2011 the cheapest seats seem to be going for €28 [before discount], about the same as during our visit.)

As we hadn’t packed any fancy dress, we were worried that we would be underdressed for the opera, but we wore our darkest clothes and found that many of our fellow viewers in the “nosebleed” seats were similarly underdressed and nobody paid us any mind.

We were surprised to receive no program. A single sheet of paper with the cast members’ names listed on it was posted on a bulletin board and available for sale. We declined to purchase it, but unsold copies were abandoned on a table at the end of the performance, so we were able to take one for our files.

Kathleen Loomis
Louisville, KY

 

In 1984 I was in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, and heard that a special 350th-anniversary presentation of the Passion Play was being held in nearby OBERAMMERGAU. (Normally, it is held once a decade, in the year ending in “zero.”)

Most people purchase tickets and tour packages for this years in advance. I had no ticket but had heard that tickets for “no shows” (tour members who canceled due to sickness, etc.) sometimes are turned back in by tour operators.

I took a local bus to Oberammergau and walked up to the ticket window. Six people were in line in front of me. I was able to buy a single ticket.

My message is that it may be possible to get a ticket at the box office at the last minute. Of course, the play was very memorable.

Phil Hugill
Bethesda, MD

 

It is much easier to get tickets for overseas performances now than it was in 1984 when my husband, John, and I got tickets for “Wozzeck” at the VIENNA Opera. Back then, we had to contact the box office by “slow mail.” In May ’10, I simply e-mailed the Vienna State Opera (ticket orders to Bestellbüro der Wiener Staatsoper, Hanuschgasse 3, 1010 Vienna, Austria; fax +43 1 51444 2969) and got the good aisle seats I wanted for “La Traviata.”

Before a trip, I check travel books to find out about regular performances, then I send an e-mail or fax to the venue. Once abroad, I keep my eyes open for posters or go to a five-star hotel and ask about local shows.

In TAORMINA, Sicily, in July 1989 we had the most fun after noticing a poster showing that “Tosca” would be performed in the outdoor Greek amphitheater, or Teatro Greco (Via del Teatro Greco; phone 0942 23220), a fabulous venue overlooking the sea.

The opera was supposed to begin at 9, but after the orchestra came on, all the lights went off. After several false tries and numerous announcements to the audience, they finally got the lights fixed at 10:30. Surprisingly, no one left and no one even objected. The Italian audience had great fun visiting, drinking and sharing snacks. The performance finished about 2 a.m.

On the same trip, we happened into SPOLETO during that city’s music festival, Festival di Spoleto (c/o Teatro Nuovo, Via Vaita Sant’Andrea, 06049 Spoleto [PG], Italy; phone +39 0743 221689, fax 0743 234027, — held annually June to early July), and noted the posters.

Not knowing what tickets he could get, John got in line at a theater box office recommended by a man at the bank. We would be in town only that one day. The noon performance was great, with John Gibbons playing the clavichord; he had quite a following in Spoleto.

 

At the SYDNEY Opera House (Macquarie St., Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia; phone +61 2 9250 7777, fax +61 2 9251 3843) in June ’05, we splurged on “Don Giovanni” and dinner at the venue’s fancy restaurant — a wonderful evening, with tickets obtained by e-mail.

When in TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, in June 2000, we stopped at a Sheraton to get information on possible theater performances. They graciously researched for us and found that the ballet “1001 Nights” was on that night and the opera “The Queen of Spades” would be on the next night. Each seat cost about 80¢.

We were in the third row for the opera, which had an extremely large cast, with excellent singers and dancers. We had never seen this opera before and there were no supertitles, and all four of us ended up imagining different story lines. (The next year it was performed by the Los Angeles Opera with Placido Domingo, and we found that none of us had guessed the plot correctly.)

Both of the performances we saw in Tashkent were beautifully done. The costumes for the ballet, sponsored by Philip Morris, were made of embroidered silk.

For our hotel and for tickets to the Savonlinna Opera Festival (Olavinkatu 27, FI-57130 SAVONLINNA, Finland; phone +358 15 476 750, fax 476 7540) in FINLAND in July ’04, we had to begin making arrangements by fax six months ahead. “Turandot” was magnificent against the walls of Olavinlinna Castle, and two days later we saw “Don Giovanni.” We drove there from Helsinki, exploring the lake district during the days between the operas.

Lastly, we must mention PRAGUE, Czech Republic, where you can attend up to three concerts a day in the summer in concert halls, churches and auditoriums. They’re given by national orchestras or students, all making beautiful music as noted in the posters showing all over town.

We have always seen great performances abroad and encourage others to plan ahead for a culture night and also to keep looking for events you just “happen on.”

Linda Huetinck
Alhambra, CA

 

A friend and I took the “Sound of Music” tour with Trafalgar Tours (Anaheim, CA; 866/544-4434) in June ’11.

One of the optional programs offered was a performance in VIENNA at the Palais Auersperg (Auerspergstrasse 1, 1080 Wien, Austria; phone ++43 [01] 40107 — tickets, €46 [near $62], €54 & €63).

The concert hall was beautiful, inside and out. The interior had pale pink-and-green marbled walls and sparkling crystal chandeliers. What made it special was that Mozart and the Messrs. Strauss junior and senior all had performed there. In the program, half the compositions were Mozart and half, Strauss.

The Vienna Residence Orchestra, while small, sounded like a full orchestra. The program included excellent singers, performing both solos and duets, and wonderful dancers. We were lucky enough to be in the second row, which was a real plus. No photos were allowed, and, as far I could tell, everyone obeyed the request.

The music, dancers and singers all were the very best. Everyone in our group thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Bea Emanuel
Minneapolis, MN

 

My wife, Judy, and I were in lovely VIENNA the first week of September ’10 and stayed at the Marriott Hotel Vienna, Stadtpark. As we were walking down the marvelous Kärntnerstrasse, the main shopping street of Vienna, we were approached by several young people dressed in vintage costumes selling tickets to a Mozart concert.

The concert was to be held in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein (Bösendorferstrasse 12, 1010 Wien, Austria; phone +43 1 505 81 90), located just off Ringstrasse. The Musikverein concert hall holds a central place in Vienna’s musical life.

The main ticket office is at Kärnt­nerstrasse 1, but tickets are for sale all over Vienna. For a Saturday night concert, we purchased two balcony tickets for €54 (about $68) each.

The 30-man Vienna Mozart Orchestra, performing in period costumes and wigs, comprises first-class musicians. Together with internationally known opera singers and soloists, they created quite an atmosphere in the fabulous hall. The performance met all our highest expectations.

The concert, about two hours long with a 10-minute intermission, included pieces from “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” “Le Nozze di Figaro,” “Don Giovanni” and “The Magic Flute” and waltzes by Johann Strauss, including “The Blue Danube” and the “Radetzky March.”

During several numbers, and especially when the “Radetzky March” was played, the audience joined in with joyous and loud hand clapping.

This should be a “must” concert for anyone visiting Vienna. Go after you have had dinner at the Café Mozart, located behind the famous Vienna State Opera and next to Hotel Sacher. (For a total of €50 [near $67], Judy had a fish dinner, salad and wine and I had Wienerschnitzel, Pommes frites and beer.)

Doug Barnett
Ann Arbor, MI

 

During a church trip to the Oberammergau Passion Play in September ’10, our tour organizer offered us the option of attending a performance of “The Magic Flute” at the Marionette Theatre in SALZBURG (Schwarzstrasse 24, A 5020, Salzburg, Austria; phone +[43 662] 87 24 06, fax 88 21 41).

I look closely at the optional excursions offered on tours and often take advantage of them. My expectations weren’t terribly high for this experience — I envisioned something like the “Lonely Goatherd” number from “The Sound of Music” — but this performance was totally different! It was colorful, artful, charming, delightful, totally entertaining, wonderful, professional and far and away beyond what I had assumed would take place.

While not large, the theater is beautiful. When you enter, you have the opportunity to purchase a booklet describing the company; I highly recommend purchasing this.

The hallway leading to the performance space has glass cases displaying marionettes used in previous performances. They looked too small to be visible from a distance, and I wondered how in the world I would be able to see them during the performance, but it was not a problem. Somehow the marionettes appeared magnified and didn’t look small; they seemed sort of “small life-size.”

The walls and ceiling of the baroque space were graced with very lovely designs and paintings, and to the left and right of the stage the side walls were white with gold curlicue borders.

These side walls opened during the performance, and before each scene a summary of that particular scene was projected onto these spaces in German, Italian, French and English so everyone could follow the story line even if they didn’t understand German. Since marionettes are voiceless, excellent recordings of the opera by world-renowned artists were played.

The audience comprised locals and tourists alike, from children to seniors. The fact that families as well as young couples on dates clearly enjoyed the performance charmed me no end.

The courtesy and consideration evidenced was quite different from what I’ve experienced in many theaters. One thing the management did that impressed me was provide booster seats for the young children. Very nice!

The marionettes were positively works of art, and the operators were exceedingly skilled. They were able to manipulate the marionettes to portray every imaginable emotion from anger to puzzlement to joy, and soon after the play began I was totally immersed in it.

Since I normally carry binoculars with me when I travel, I was able to see details in the carving of the marionettes that I otherwise would have missed, even though we had seats close to the stage. Those details were exquisite.

Our prime seats cost about €25 ($36) each. (2011 prices range from €18 to €35.)

Should I return to Salzburg, I will make every effort to see another performance at the Salzburger Marionettentheater, even if it’s “The Magic Flute” again.

Dianna Sutherland
Annandale, VA

 

In NAPLES, Teatro di San Carlo (via San Carlo, 98/F-80132, Naples, Italy; phone +3908 1797 2111) is said by the Lonely Planet guidebook to be “sumptuous” and “Italy’s largest opera house.” When I walked by the venue on Oct. 23, 2010, I noticed that the theater’s orchestra was presenting a concert that very evening.

I went to the box office, asked if a seat were available and accepted the orchestra seat that the attending lady pointed to on the seating chart. As she pushed the ticket toward me, she said “90 euros, please.” I was shocked, but, not knowing how to say “too much” in Italian, I somehow produced my credit card, resulting in a charge of $128, by far the most I’ve ever paid for any entertainment event anywhere.

The lesson — remember to ask “How much?” before requesting a ticket!

The concert was fine though not outstanding. (A lady seated beside me did not return after the intermission.)

To explain my shock, I live near GUADALAJARA, Mexico, where, to hear the more impressive Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra, an orchestra seat in the equally sumptuous Teatro Degallado (Av. Hidalgo y Morelos, Zona Centro, Guadalajara 44100, Mexico; phone 52 3 6131115) costs me (at the half-price rate for seniors) 85 pesos, or about $7.50 — another good reason for living where I do.

Kenneth G. Crosby
Laredo, TX

 

In Prague on July 24, 2010, during a two-month Eurailpass Western Europe adventure, I saw on the Internet that the band U2 was restarting their “360° Tour” (delayed because of a back injury to lead singer Bono) in TURIN, Italy. My decision was made. I canceled hostel reservations, made new reservations for Turin and changed train reservations so I could arrive on Aug. 5, the day before the concert.

I had no ticket to the sold-out concert but felt confident, despite the long odds, that I could get one at the venue from someone.

On the morning of the show, I went down for breakfast and sat at a table across from a young man wearing a T-shirt imprinted with “Huntington Beach,” a place I know from home. It turned out the shirt was a gift and he had no clue about where the beach was. However, he, Daniel (from Austria), knew about U2.

He had a ticket for himself and knew someone standing in line who had one for sale. On his mobile phone, he called his friend and I now had a pitch standing ticket, that is, a “general admission” ticket, for standing in front of the stage, which is what I wanted. It was offered to me at face value. (I had expected to pay a premium.)

The venue, Stadio Olimpico (Corso Sebastopoli 123, Turin), was just a short tram ride away. Once there, Daniel and I found Katia (from Germany) in line and I got my ticket. It was a good feeling.

In line, Daniel and I met Jonathan from Germany and Christian from Denmark. It was a long wait before the gates were opened. Once they were, we got a good spot to see the concert and still had several hours before it would start. I enjoyed being with these good people.

The concert, itself, was amazing. I wish I could adequately describe the stage, let alone the performance. The Italian crowd was completely into the experience. The sing-alongs gave me chills. It was a music-and-travel highlight, for me. I thought I was going to be arrested for having too much fun.

Daniel ended up doing an internship in Los Angeles and on June 17, 2011, joined me and my family to share another U2 show at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. What a small world we share!

I would urge anyone who has the opportunity to go to a concert in a foreign country.

Alan Matis
Sherman Oaks, CA

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. We requested the following.

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 (website? newspaper? street flier?) and how you obtained tickets (venue’s website? box office? hotel 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?

We printed a few responses last month, and more are coming. Those shown below are mostly about events attended in Germany, Austria and Italy. Send your report 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 are always welcome!

 

When my husband, Kenneth, and I arrived in BERLIN in July ’10, our first stop was the tourist office to purchase a CityTourCard. (Buy it online or find locations to buy it in Berlin — 48-hour card, €15.90 [near $21]; five-day card, €28.90.) The card would give us a five-day transit pass plus discounts at many entertainment and cultural venues.

At the tourist office, we picked up a schedule for the Deutsche Oper Berlin (Bismarckstrasse 35, 10627 Berlin, Germany; phone +49 [0] 30 343 84 01, fax 343 84 232). “Carmen” and “La Bohème” were on the schedule, and we decided we were familiar enough with both operas that we could enjoy either of them without translation. (Our German wasn’t good enough to get much out of the German supertitles.)

A couple of days before the performance, Kenneth and I activated our cards and used them to take the train to the opera for free and to buy tickets for “La Bohème” at a 20% discount. (In 2011 the cheapest seats seem to be going for €28 [before discount], about the same as during our visit.)

As we hadn’t packed any fancy dress, we were worried that we would be underdressed for the opera, but we wore our darkest clothes and found that many of our fellow viewers in the “nosebleed” seats were similarly underdressed and nobody paid us any mind.

We were surprised to receive no program. A single sheet of paper with the cast members’ names listed on it was posted on a bulletin board and available for sale. We declined to purchase it, but unsold copies were abandoned on a table at the end of the performance, so we were able to take one for our files.

Kathleen Loomis
Louisville, KY

 

In 1984 I was in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, and heard that a special 350th-anniversary presentation of the Passion Play was being held in nearby OBERAMMERGAU. (Normally, it is held once a decade, in the year ending in “zero.”)

Most people purchase tickets and tour packages for this years in advance. I had no ticket but had heard that tickets for “no shows” (tour members who canceled due to sickness, etc.) sometimes are turned back in by tour operators.

I took a local bus to Oberammergau and walked up to the ticket window. Six people were in line in front of me. I was able to buy a single ticket.

My message is that it may be possible to get a ticket at the box office at the last minute. Of course, the play was very memorable.

Phil Hugill
Bethesda, MD

 

It is much easier to get tickets for overseas performances now than it was in 1984 when my husband, John, and I got tickets for “Wozzeck” at the VIENNA Opera. Back then, we had to contact the box office by “slow mail.” In May ’10, I simply e-mailed the Vienna State Opera (ticket orders to Bestellbüro der Wiener Staatsoper, Hanuschgasse 3, 1010 Vienna, Austria; fax +43 1 51444 2969) and got the good aisle seats I wanted for “La Traviata.”

Before a trip, I check travel books to find out about regular performances, then I send an e-mail or fax to the venue. Once abroad, I keep my eyes open for posters or go to a five-star hotel and ask about local shows.

In TAORMINA, Sicily, in July 1989 we had the most fun after noticing a poster showing that “Tosca” would be performed in the outdoor Greek amphitheater, or Teatro Greco (Via del Teatro Greco; phone 0942 23220), a fabulous venue overlooking the sea.

The opera was supposed to begin at 9, but after the orchestra came on, all the lights went off. After several false tries and numerous announcements to the audience, they finally got the lights fixed at 10:30. Surprisingly, no one left and no one even objected. The Italian audience had great fun visiting, drinking and sharing snacks. The performance finished about 2 a.m.

On the same trip, we happened into SPOLETO during that city’s music festival, Festival di Spoleto (c/o Teatro Nuovo, Via Vaita Sant’Andrea, 06049 Spoleto [PG], Italy; phone +39 0743 221689, fax 0743 234027, — held annually June to early July), and noted the posters.

Not knowing what tickets he could get, John got in line at a theater box office recommended by a man at the bank. We would be in town only that one day. The noon performance was great, with John Gibbons playing the clavichord; he had quite a following in Spoleto.

 

At the SYDNEY Opera House (Macquarie St., Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia; phone +61 2 9250 7777, fax +61 2 9251 3843) in June ’05, we splurged on “Don Giovanni” and dinner at the venue’s fancy restaurant — a wonderful evening, with tickets obtained by e-mail.

When in TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, in June 2000, we stopped at a Sheraton to get information on possible theater performances. They graciously researched for us and found that the ballet “1001 Nights” was on that night and the opera “The Queen of Spades” would be on the next night. Each seat cost about 80¢.

We were in the third row for the opera, which had an extremely large cast, with excellent singers and dancers. We had never seen this opera before and there were no supertitles, and all four of us ended up imagining different story lines. (The next year it was performed by the Los Angeles Opera with Placido Domingo, and we found that none of us had guessed the plot correctly.)

Both of the performances we saw in Tashkent were beautifully done. The costumes for the ballet, sponsored by Philip Morris, were made of embroidered silk.

For our hotel and for tickets to the Savonlinna Opera Festival (Olavinkatu 27, FI-57130 SAVONLINNA, Finland; phone +358 15 476 750, fax 476 7540) in FINLAND in July ’04, we had to begin making arrangements by fax six months ahead. “Turandot” was magnificent against the walls of Olavinlinna Castle, and two days later we saw “Don Giovanni.” We drove there from Helsinki, exploring the lake district during the days between the operas.

Lastly, we must mention PRAGUE, Czech Republic, where you can attend up to three concerts a day in the summer in concert halls, churches and auditoriums. They’re given by national orchestras or students, all making beautiful music as noted in the posters showing all over town.

We have always seen great performances abroad and encourage others to plan ahead for a culture night and also to keep looking for events you just “happen on.”

Linda Huetinck
Alhambra, CA

 

A friend and I took the “Sound of Music” tour with Trafalgar Tours (Anaheim, CA; 866/544-4434) in June ’11.

One of the optional programs offered was a performance in VIENNA at the Palais Auersperg (Auerspergstrasse 1, 1080 Wien, Austria; phone ++43 [01] 40107 — tickets, €46 [near $62], €54 & €63).

The concert hall was beautiful, inside and out. The interior had pale pink-and-green marbled walls and sparkling crystal chandeliers. What made it special was that Mozart and the Messrs. Strauss junior and senior all had performed there. In the program, half the compositions were Mozart and half, Strauss.

The Vienna Residence Orchestra, while small, sounded like a full orchestra. The program included excellent singers, performing both solos and duets, and wonderful dancers. We were lucky enough to be in the second row, which was a real plus. No photos were allowed, and, as far I could tell, everyone obeyed the request.

The music, dancers and singers all were the very best. Everyone in our group thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Bea Emanuel
Minneapolis, MN

 

My wife, Judy, and I were in lovely VIENNA the first week of September ’10 and stayed at the Marriott Hotel Vienna, Stadtpark. As we were walking down the marvelous Kärntnerstrasse, the main shopping street of Vienna, we were approached by several young people dressed in vintage costumes selling tickets to a Mozart concert.

The concert was to be held in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein (Bösendorferstrasse 12, 1010 Wien, Austria; phone +43 1 505 81 90), located just off Ringstrasse. The Musikverein concert hall holds a central place in Vienna’s musical life.

The main ticket office is at Kärnt­nerstrasse 1, but tickets are for sale all over Vienna. For a Saturday night concert, we purchased two balcony tickets for €54 (about $68) each.

The 30-man Vienna Mozart Orchestra, performing in period costumes and wigs, comprises first-class musicians. Together with internationally known opera singers and soloists, they created quite an atmosphere in the fabulous hall. The performance met all our highest expectations.

The concert, about two hours long with a 10-minute intermission, included pieces from “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” “Le Nozze di Figaro,” “Don Giovanni” and “The Magic Flute” and waltzes by Johann Strauss, including “The Blue Danube” and the “Radetzky March.”

During several numbers, and especially when the “Radetzky March” was played, the audience joined in with joyous and loud hand clapping.

This should be a “must” concert for anyone visiting Vienna. Go after you have had dinner at the Café Mozart, located behind the famous Vienna State Opera and next to Hotel Sacher. (For a total of €50 [near $67], Judy had a fish dinner, salad and wine and I had Wienerschnitzel, Pommes frites and beer.)

Doug Barnett
Ann Arbor, MI

 

During a church trip to the Oberammergau Passion Play in September ’10, our tour organizer offered us the option of attending a performance of “The Magic Flute” at the Marionette Theatre in SALZBURG (Schwarzstrasse 24, A 5020, Salzburg, Austria; phone +[43 662] 87 24 06, fax 88 21 41).

I look closely at the optional excursions offered on tours and often take advantage of them. My expectations weren’t terribly high for this experience — I envisioned something like the “Lonely Goatherd” number from “The Sound of Music” — but this performance was totally different! It was colorful, artful, charming, delightful, totally entertaining, wonderful, professional and far and away beyond what I had assumed would take place.

While not large, the theater is beautiful. When you enter, you have the opportunity to purchase a booklet describing the company; I highly recommend purchasing this.

The hallway leading to the performance space has glass cases displaying marionettes used in previous performances. They looked too small to be visible from a distance, and I wondered how in the world I would be able to see them during the performance, but it was not a problem. Somehow the marionettes appeared magnified and didn’t look small; they seemed sort of “small life-size.”

The walls and ceiling of the baroque space were graced with very lovely designs and paintings, and to the left and right of the stage the side walls were white with gold curlicue borders.

These side walls opened during the performance, and before each scene a summary of that particular scene was projected onto these spaces in German, Italian, French and English so everyone could follow the story line even if they didn’t understand German. Since marionettes are voiceless, excellent recordings of the opera by world-renowned artists were played.

The audience comprised locals and tourists alike, from children to seniors. The fact that families as well as young couples on dates clearly enjoyed the performance charmed me no end.

The courtesy and consideration evidenced was quite different from what I’ve experienced in many theaters. One thing the management did that impressed me was provide booster seats for the young children. Very nice!

The marionettes were positively works of art, and the operators were exceedingly skilled. They were able to manipulate the marionettes to portray every imaginable emotion from anger to puzzlement to joy, and soon after the play began I was totally immersed in it.

Since I normally carry binoculars with me when I travel, I was able to see details in the carving of the marionettes that I otherwise would have missed, even though we had seats close to the stage. Those details were exquisite.

Our prime seats cost about €25 ($36) each. (2011 prices range from €18 to €35.)

Should I return to Salzburg, I will make every effort to see another performance at the Salzburger Marionettentheater, even if it’s “The Magic Flute” again.

Dianna Sutherland
Annandale, VA

 

In NAPLES, Teatro di San Carlo (via San Carlo, 98/F-80132, Naples, Italy; phone +3908 1797 2111) is said by the Lonely Planet guidebook to be “sumptuous” and “Italy’s largest opera house.” When I walked by the venue on Oct. 23, 2010, I noticed that the theater’s orchestra was presenting a concert that very evening.

I went to the box office, asked if a seat were available and accepted the orchestra seat that the attending lady pointed to on the seating chart. As she pushed the ticket toward me, she said “90 euros, please.” I was shocked, but, not knowing how to say “too much” in Italian, I somehow produced my credit card, resulting in a charge of $128, by far the most I’ve ever paid for any entertainment event anywhere.

The lesson — remember to ask “How much?” before requesting a ticket!

The concert was fine though not outstanding. (A lady seated beside me did not return after the intermission.)

To explain my shock, I live near GUADALAJARA, Mexico, where, to hear the more impressive Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra, an orchestra seat in the equally sumptuous Teatro Degallado (Av. Hidalgo y Morelos, Zona Centro, Guadalajara 44100, Mexico; phone 52 3 6131115) costs me (at the half-price rate for seniors) 85 pesos, or about $7.50 — another good reason for living where I do.

Kenneth G. Crosby
Laredo, TX

 

In Prague on July 24, 2010, during a two-month Eurailpass Western Europe adventure, I saw on the Internet that the band U2 was restarting their “360° Tour” (delayed because of a back injury to lead singer Bono) in TURIN, Italy. My decision was made. I canceled hostel reservations, made new reservations for Turin and changed train reservations so I could arrive on Aug. 5, the day before the concert.

I had no ticket to the sold-out concert but felt confident, despite the long odds, that I could get one at the venue from someone.

On the morning of the show, I went down for breakfast and sat at a table across from a young man wearing a T-shirt imprinted with “Huntington Beach,” a place I know from home. It turned out the shirt was a gift and he had no clue about where the beach was. However, he, Daniel (from Austria), knew about U2.

He had a ticket for himself and knew someone standing in line who had one for sale. On his mobile phone, he called his friend and I now had a pitch standing ticket, that is, a “general admission” ticket, for standing in front of the stage, which is what I wanted. It was offered to me at face value. (I had expected to pay a premium.)

The venue, Stadio Olimpico (Corso Sebastopoli 123, Turin), was just a short tram ride away. Once there, Daniel and I found Katia (from Germany) in line and I got my ticket. It was a good feeling.

In line, Daniel and I met Jonathan from Germany and Christian from Denmark. It was a long wait before the gates were opened. Once they were, we got a good spot to see the concert and still had several hours before it would start. I enjoyed being with these good people.

The concert, itself, was amazing. I wish I could adequately describe the stage, let alone the performance. The Italian crowd was completely into the experience. The sing-alongs gave me chills. It was a music-and-travel highlight, for me. I thought I was going to be arrested for having too much fun.

Daniel ended up doing an internship in Los Angeles and on June 17, 2011, joined me and my family to share another U2 show at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. What a small world we share!

I would urge anyone who has the opportunity to go to a concert in a foreign country.

Alan Matis
Sherman Oaks, CA