Attending a concert, play, opera, ballet…

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We’re wrapping up our series on attending concerts, recitals, stage productions or music or dance performances outside of the US. The goal was to learn how travelers find out about and obtain tickets to any special events that are taking place and to, perhaps, inspire you to attend a performance of some sort in whatever country you’re visiting. 

A multitude of letters were received, and we printed the first batch in the October 2011 issue, with others published sporadically. The responses this month, comprising part 12, are mostly about events attended in Europe. If you experience a performance that you feel others would appreciate, let us all know about it.

 

During our cruise to the British Isles in August ’09, our ship was scheduled to dock in EDINBURGH, Scotland, for two nights during which the annual Military Tattoo was scheduled. 

I researched the event via the Internet and ordered tickets the first day they went on sale to the public. My husband, Bob, and I spent approximately $40 each for excellent seats. 

We rode the city bus from the dock for $5 per person, round trip, and were dropped off and picked up at the same location used by the excursion bus carrying the ship’s passengers. We saved over $100 per person versus the cost of the cruise line’s excursion.

Kathy Wheale
Greenville, SC

 

My husband and I are avid theater-goers. We knew that during our trip to Ireland in June ’11 we wanted to see a play there, however we didn’t make reservations before leaving home.

Since our hotel in DUBLIN was close to the Abbey Theatre (26/27 Lower Abbey St., Dublin, Ireland; phone +353 [0] 1 87 87 222, fax 353 1 8729177), we just walked over there a couple of days before we wanted to attend.

Two shows were playing, one at the larger, upstairs Abbey Stage and one on the downstairs Peacock Stage, which features new works. We could have purchased tickets to either performance. 

One of the plays, on the Peacock stage, was definitely provocative and interested me more, so we chose to see that. We got second-row center seats for 25 (near $36) each and thoroughly enjoyed the play. 

Karen Schneider
Chicago, IL

 

One of the true joys of travel is being able to attend dramatic, cultural and musical performances. It is good to try to incorporate these into the itinerary, but a real bonus is when they just seem to come up spontaneously.

In LONDON, the theater is the first thing to come to mind. A friend once advised me not to depend on the Leicester Square discount ticket booth because lines are often quite long and, since I am usually there for a short stay, I wouldn’t want to spend valuable time in line. 

I have used Lastminute.com on several occasions to get tickets, the last time in 2010. (Choose “United Kingdom” as the location and then “Theatre.”) My policy is not to see a play that I could see at home, and this website also lists unfamiliar shows at bargain prices of £10 plus a booking fee. It even offers specials that can include dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Another bargain suggestion for London is attending an evensong service at Westminster Abbey (20 Deans Yard, London; phone +44 0 20 7222 5152) or at St. Paul’s Cathedral (St. Paul’s Churchyard, London; phone +44 020 7236 4128). It costs nothing to get in, and music is often performed by a choir or, at least, on the pipe organ. 

You can’t really tour those two churches during that time, but the music adds so much to what you do see. 

Judy Pfaffenberger Toledo, OH 

 

While I cannot give costs or locations, I have attended several events in Europe that I would recommend to anyone. I usually was staying in a hostel (yes, they take seniors too!) and inquired around and read brochures and advertisements to find events.

• I suggest going online to get info about Strauss concerts held in VIENNA’s Kursalon (Johannesgase 33, 1010 Vienna, Austria; phone +43 [0] 1 512 57 90 0, fax 512 57 90 40 or visit www.kursalonwien.at [in the “News” box, click on “Strauss & Mozart Konzerte” to buy tickets online]), where Strauss, himself, played concerts. It overlooks the Stadtpark, where you can walk and enjoy the plantings and admire a gilded-bronze statue of Johann Strauss II playing his violin. 

These concerts were always full. I recommend having tickets and getting there ONE hour in advance to assure good seats. (During our visit in 2004, individual areas were sold but not individual seats.)

I have an utterly blissful memory of the night I sat at the front left-hand corner of that stage.

Just before “On the Beautiful Blue Danube” was played, the ballet dancer who had been performing with the ballerina walked from the stage down to the floor. I turned around and saw that he was heading in my direction. There were only men sitting behind me, so I became very excited as I realized he was coming to me! 

He held out his hand and asked me to dance. I was very nicely dressed, but due to a sleet storm that evening I had worn hiking boots so as not to slip. The stage was carpeted. I desperately kept reminding myself not to trip but also that one turns left, not right, in Viennese waltzes.

Not realizing that ballet dancers don’t know to “lead,” it was difficult to dance with him. I also was very aware that I was on stage in front of an audience of about 200 people.

I was chagrinned when he asked me if I had a problem. Not wanting to tell him he wasn’t leading me at all, I said something to the effect that I was concentrating on remembering to turn left.

At once he said, “Madame, just stop a minute.” 

I asked, “Now? Here?” and he said, “Yes.” Then, to my amazement, we danced turning “right.” 

When we finished and as he walked me back to where my husband was sitting, I was a combination of elated and very shaky. I remarked to my husband that I was so embarrassed because I CAN dance and didn’t do well. A lady next to me overheard that and promptly said, “I watched you, my dear, and you did splendidly, and never think otherwise.”

That was a big help to my ego, and later as we headed to the door I had a smile pasted on my face that just didn’t want to leave! I even persuaded my husband to dance with me in the empty building where we caught the U-bahn.

• In BUDAPEST, Hungary, I recommend looking up any folklore concert. The one I saw in 2006 was fabulous. Budapest has a good bus system and many English-speaking folks who can direct you. If you love Romani music, this is for you!

• In any city or village in SWITZERLAND, just look for the sign “I,” indicating a tourist information office, to learn what events are happening not only in that area but all over the country. 

On a weekend there, if you happen to get on the wrong train, STAY ON IT, then get off at any stop that appeals to you, go to the “I” and find out what is taking place. Plan your day around an event of your choosing, finding a place to eat, etc. 

Transportation is so perfect there. Just remember that, with Swiss transportation, you had better be ON TIME. Even a minute late and you’ll miss your ride.

Cherie Scudder Fleenor East Bethany, NY

 

While visiting PRAGUE, Czech Republic, in June ’12, my 17-year-old son and I went to a magnificent chamber music concert in the Mirror Chapel within the building complex Clementinum (Karlova 1, Praha 1; phone +420 222 220 879).

This beautiful, old concert hall has scenes painted on the ceiling and much gilding on the walls. It is intimate without being too small. The tickets cost only $20 apiece for an hour of Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, Handel, etc.

We had walked by several venues, including this chapel, a church and auditoriums, that advertised concerts anywhere from two to four hours later that same day. I almost bought tickets to a Vivaldi concert that was organ only. That would have been fine, but I so much more prefer chamber music and was glad we went back to the Mirror Chapel. We bought tickets on the spot and returned 2½ hours later for the concert.

There were nightly concerts, with a different program each evening. The chamber orchestra was as good as any I have heard in Santa Fe at their Chamber Music Festival but for a much lower price.

There are so many choices for concerts in Prague, but if you are on a tight schedule, opt for the type of music you like best, such as an organ concert or, my favorite, chamber music. 

Nanci Scheithauer
Santa Fe, NM

 

Starting 40-plus years ago when my husband, John, and I first began traveling EUROPE — independently — we found small concerts and classical music performances in churches. 

Before dinner, we just walked the neighborhood looking for sidewalk posters, mostly. These small concerts are invariably near the historical section of each town. We also looked for brochures on the desk of our hotel and/or inquired at the concierge desk. 

These were evening performances, mostly on weekends, and very reasonably priced. The talent of the musicians and the quality of their instruments (especially in Eastern Europe) were of the highest. So many performances were memorable — always a soloist or small group. 

Later, when we traveled on group tours, we would encourage fellow tour members to attend with us. The result? Amazement at the wonderful performances and also at how none of them would have thought of doing something like that!

Dee Hornback
Los Altos, CA

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

We’re wrapping up our series on attending concerts, recitals, stage productions or music or dance performances outside of the US. The goal was to learn how travelers find out about and obtain tickets to any special events that are taking place and to, perhaps, inspire you to attend a performance of some sort in whatever country you’re visiting. 

A multitude of letters were received, and we printed the first batch in the October 2011 issue, with others published sporadically. The responses this month, comprising part 12, are mostly about events attended in Europe. If you experience a performance that you feel others would appreciate, let us all know about it.

 

During our cruise to the British Isles in August ’09, our ship was scheduled to dock in EDINBURGH, Scotland, for two nights during which the annual Military Tattoo was scheduled. 

I researched the event via the Internet and ordered tickets the first day they went on sale to the public. My husband, Bob, and I spent approximately $40 each for excellent seats. 

We rode the city bus from the dock for $5 per person, round trip, and were dropped off and picked up at the same location used by the excursion bus carrying the ship’s passengers. We saved over $100 per person versus the cost of the cruise line’s excursion.

Kathy Wheale
Greenville, SC

 

My husband and I are avid theater-goers. We knew that during our trip to Ireland in June ’11 we wanted to see a play there, however we didn’t make reservations before leaving home.

Since our hotel in DUBLIN was close to the Abbey Theatre (26/27 Lower Abbey St., Dublin, Ireland; phone +353 [0] 1 87 87 222, fax 353 1 8729177), we just walked over there a couple of days before we wanted to attend.

Two shows were playing, one at the larger, upstairs Abbey Stage and one on the downstairs Peacock Stage, which features new works. We could have purchased tickets to either performance. 

One of the plays, on the Peacock stage, was definitely provocative and interested me more, so we chose to see that. We got second-row center seats for 25 (near $36) each and thoroughly enjoyed the play. 

Karen Schneider
Chicago, IL

 

One of the true joys of travel is being able to attend dramatic, cultural and musical performances. It is good to try to incorporate these into the itinerary, but a real bonus is when they just seem to come up spontaneously.

In LONDON, the theater is the first thing to come to mind. A friend once advised me not to depend on the Leicester Square discount ticket booth because lines are often quite long and, since I am usually there for a short stay, I wouldn’t want to spend valuable time in line. 

I have used Lastminute.com on several occasions to get tickets, the last time in 2010. (Choose “United Kingdom” as the location and then “Theatre.”) My policy is not to see a play that I could see at home, and this website also lists unfamiliar shows at bargain prices of £10 plus a booking fee. It even offers specials that can include dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Another bargain suggestion for London is attending an evensong service at Westminster Abbey (20 Deans Yard, London; phone +44 0 20 7222 5152) or at St. Paul’s Cathedral (St. Paul’s Churchyard, London; phone +44 020 7236 4128). It costs nothing to get in, and music is often performed by a choir or, at least, on the pipe organ. 

You can’t really tour those two churches during that time, but the music adds so much to what you do see. 

Judy Pfaffenberger Toledo, OH 

 

While I cannot give costs or locations, I have attended several events in Europe that I would recommend to anyone. I usually was staying in a hostel (yes, they take seniors too!) and inquired around and read brochures and advertisements to find events.

• I suggest going online to get info about Strauss concerts held in VIENNA’s Kursalon (Johannesgase 33, 1010 Vienna, Austria; phone +43 [0] 1 512 57 90 0, fax 512 57 90 40 or visit www.kursalonwien.at [in the “News” box, click on “Strauss & Mozart Konzerte” to buy tickets online]), where Strauss, himself, played concerts. It overlooks the Stadtpark, where you can walk and enjoy the plantings and admire a gilded-bronze statue of Johann Strauss II playing his violin. 

These concerts were always full. I recommend having tickets and getting there ONE hour in advance to assure good seats. (During our visit in 2004, individual areas were sold but not individual seats.)

I have an utterly blissful memory of the night I sat at the front left-hand corner of that stage.

Just before “On the Beautiful Blue Danube” was played, the ballet dancer who had been performing with the ballerina walked from the stage down to the floor. I turned around and saw that he was heading in my direction. There were only men sitting behind me, so I became very excited as I realized he was coming to me! 

He held out his hand and asked me to dance. I was very nicely dressed, but due to a sleet storm that evening I had worn hiking boots so as not to slip. The stage was carpeted. I desperately kept reminding myself not to trip but also that one turns left, not right, in Viennese waltzes.

Not realizing that ballet dancers don’t know to “lead,” it was difficult to dance with him. I also was very aware that I was on stage in front of an audience of about 200 people.

I was chagrinned when he asked me if I had a problem. Not wanting to tell him he wasn’t leading me at all, I said something to the effect that I was concentrating on remembering to turn left.

At once he said, “Madame, just stop a minute.” 

I asked, “Now? Here?” and he said, “Yes.” Then, to my amazement, we danced turning “right.” 

When we finished and as he walked me back to where my husband was sitting, I was a combination of elated and very shaky. I remarked to my husband that I was so embarrassed because I CAN dance and didn’t do well. A lady next to me overheard that and promptly said, “I watched you, my dear, and you did splendidly, and never think otherwise.”

That was a big help to my ego, and later as we headed to the door I had a smile pasted on my face that just didn’t want to leave! I even persuaded my husband to dance with me in the empty building where we caught the U-bahn.

• In BUDAPEST, Hungary, I recommend looking up any folklore concert. The one I saw in 2006 was fabulous. Budapest has a good bus system and many English-speaking folks who can direct you. If you love Romani music, this is for you!

• In any city or village in SWITZERLAND, just look for the sign “I,” indicating a tourist information office, to learn what events are happening not only in that area but all over the country. 

On a weekend there, if you happen to get on the wrong train, STAY ON IT, then get off at any stop that appeals to you, go to the “I” and find out what is taking place. Plan your day around an event of your choosing, finding a place to eat, etc. 

Transportation is so perfect there. Just remember that, with Swiss transportation, you had better be ON TIME. Even a minute late and you’ll miss your ride.

Cherie Scudder Fleenor East Bethany, NY

 

While visiting PRAGUE, Czech Republic, in June ’12, my 17-year-old son and I went to a magnificent chamber music concert in the Mirror Chapel within the building complex Clementinum (Karlova 1, Praha 1; phone +420 222 220 879).

This beautiful, old concert hall has scenes painted on the ceiling and much gilding on the walls. It is intimate without being too small. The tickets cost only $20 apiece for an hour of Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, Handel, etc.

We had walked by several venues, including this chapel, a church and auditoriums, that advertised concerts anywhere from two to four hours later that same day. I almost bought tickets to a Vivaldi concert that was organ only. That would have been fine, but I so much more prefer chamber music and was glad we went back to the Mirror Chapel. We bought tickets on the spot and returned 2½ hours later for the concert.

There were nightly concerts, with a different program each evening. The chamber orchestra was as good as any I have heard in Santa Fe at their Chamber Music Festival but for a much lower price.

There are so many choices for concerts in Prague, but if you are on a tight schedule, opt for the type of music you like best, such as an organ concert or, my favorite, chamber music. 

Nanci Scheithauer
Santa Fe, NM

 

Starting 40-plus years ago when my husband, John, and I first began traveling EUROPE — independently — we found small concerts and classical music performances in churches. 

Before dinner, we just walked the neighborhood looking for sidewalk posters, mostly. These small concerts are invariably near the historical section of each town. We also looked for brochures on the desk of our hotel and/or inquired at the concierge desk. 

These were evening performances, mostly on weekends, and very reasonably priced. The talent of the musicians and the quality of their instruments (especially in Eastern Europe) were of the highest. So many performances were memorable — always a soloist or small group. 

Later, when we traveled on group tours, we would encourage fellow tour members to attend with us. The result? Amazement at the wonderful performances and also at how none of them would have thought of doing something like that!

Dee Hornback
Los Altos, CA