Will get tickets at the source

By Frank Cahill
This item appears on page 25 of the March 2015 issue.
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My wife and I enjoy attending classical music concerts when traveling internationally. Purchasing tickets for these events can be problematic, however.

In early 2009 I ordered, through a ticket agency, two tickets to a year-end ballet at the Vienna State Opera. They promised delivery in November. When that date arrived, they stated that they had been awarded an insufficient number of tickets; they refunded my money. When I wrote an email to the Austrian Consul in Washington, DC, I was told that I should have dealt directly with the Vienna State Opera.

We wanted to attend the opera “Sleeping Beauty” at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires in fall 2012. I attempted to purchase tickets on the theater’s website, but it froze up at the moment of purchase. I called the box office, but the agent spoke only Spanish and at a very rapid pace. Since I did not respond quickly, the agent hung up on me.

Fortunately, we had booked a room at the Sheraton Libertador (Av Córdoba 690, Buenos Aires 1054, Argentina; phone +54 11 4321 0000, www.sheratonlibertador.com) and the concierge there purchased tickets for us prior to our arrival.

Unfortunately, we didn’t follow this procedure when purchasing tickets for performances of “Swan Lake” and “The Trojans” at La Scala Opera in Milan.

We had booked our flights and hotel well in advance of the April 29-30, 2014, performances. Subsequent to those bookings, we found that La Scala would not be selling the tickets until Feb. 14. Fearing that the events might sell out before we could purchase tickets, we turned to the ticket agency Basket Viaggi (Via Tazzoli 11, 20154 Milano, Italy; www.bvevents.com)

Basket Viaggi offered tickets at 195 (near $220) each for “Swan Lake” and 220 ($249) each for “The Trojans” for four seats in the first two rows of the first or second gallery. We paid them for these tickets on Jan. 14, and we were advised on Feb. 12 that our tickets were ready and we could pick them up at our hotel.

Upon our arrival, we found that our seats were in the third balcony, where tickets cost only 65 ($73). Several attendees volunteered that they had waited until the Feb. 14 release date and obtained tickets at the official price at La Scala’s ticket office.

An agency is entitled to a commission, but charging 200/220 for 65 tickets is too much, plus we were deprived of the comfortable seats we had ordered.

I wrote to the company expressing our dissatisfaction but received no reply.

In the future, we will attempt to purchase tickets directly from the venue or sponsoring organization rather than from a ticket agency. We must be vigilant in reviewing websites for classical events, however; scrutiny is often required to locate the exact website of the sponsoring organization.

Some travel guides, such as those from DK Eyewitness Travel Guides (us.dk.com/dktravel), list website addresses for concert halls.

FRANK CAHILL

Austin, Texas

ITN emailed a copy of Mr. Cahill’s letter to Basket Viaggi at info@bvevents.com but received only an automated response.

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

My wife and I enjoy attending classical music concerts when traveling internationally. Purchasing tickets for these events can be problematic, however.

In early 2009 I ordered, through a ticket agency, two tickets to a year-end ballet at the Vienna State Opera. They promised delivery in November. When that date arrived, they stated that they had been awarded an insufficient number of tickets; they refunded my money. When I wrote an email to the Austrian Consul in Washington, DC, I was told that I should have dealt directly with the Vienna State Opera.

We wanted to attend the opera “Sleeping Beauty” at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires in fall 2012. I attempted to purchase tickets on the theater’s website, but it froze up at the moment of purchase. I called the box office, but the agent spoke only Spanish and at a very rapid pace. Since I did not respond quickly, the agent hung up on me.

Fortunately, we had booked a room at the Sheraton Libertador (Av Córdoba 690, Buenos Aires 1054, Argentina; phone +54 11 4321 0000, www.sheratonlibertador.com) and the concierge there purchased tickets for us prior to our arrival.

Unfortunately, we didn’t follow this procedure when purchasing tickets for performances of “Swan Lake” and “The Trojans” at La Scala Opera in Milan.

We had booked our flights and hotel well in advance of the April 29-30, 2014, performances. Subsequent to those bookings, we found that La Scala would not be selling the tickets until Feb. 14. Fearing that the events might sell out before we could purchase tickets, we turned to the ticket agency Basket Viaggi (Via Tazzoli 11, 20154 Milano, Italy; www.bvevents.com)

Basket Viaggi offered tickets at 195 (near $220) each for “Swan Lake” and 220 ($249) each for “The Trojans” for four seats in the first two rows of the first or second gallery. We paid them for these tickets on Jan. 14, and we were advised on Feb. 12 that our tickets were ready and we could pick them up at our hotel.

Upon our arrival, we found that our seats were in the third balcony, where tickets cost only 65 ($73). Several attendees volunteered that they had waited until the Feb. 14 release date and obtained tickets at the official price at La Scala’s ticket office.

An agency is entitled to a commission, but charging 200/220 for 65 tickets is too much, plus we were deprived of the comfortable seats we had ordered.

I wrote to the company expressing our dissatisfaction but received no reply.

In the future, we will attempt to purchase tickets directly from the venue or sponsoring organization rather than from a ticket agency. We must be vigilant in reviewing websites for classical events, however; scrutiny is often required to locate the exact website of the sponsoring organization.

Some travel guides, such as those from DK Eyewitness Travel Guides (us.dk.com/dktravel), list website addresses for concert halls.

FRANK CAHILL

Austin, Texas

ITN emailed a copy of Mr. Cahill’s letter to Basket Viaggi at info@bvevents.com but received only an automated response.