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In a recent post I criticized Opera Holland Park's ticket prices as being "ridiculously expensive." Mike Volpe, OHP's General Manager, somehow found my post and offered the following rebuttal, which I felt deserved to be brought to your attention and not be buried in an old post where no one would read it:

Hi I came across your website whilst doing some research. I am the general manager of Opera Holland Park and was struck by your following comment... "but he can't offer me a discount ticket and Holland Park's ticket prices are ridiculously expensive (cheapest seat is £42)." Actually, the lowest ticket price at OHP is £21. Most seats are £39 (we offer concessions on these) and then there are the £43 seats. In a piece that discusses ROH, ENO and others, I do think it ironic that it is OHP who gets called 'ridiculously expensive'! Quite apart from anything else, we don't get millions from the public purse. We also offer 1050 FREE tickets to people between the age of 9 and 18 (an adult can accompany under sixteens free also). We have a scheme whereby we have given over 500 people tickets for £10 (Student's late ticket list). Details of both schemes are on our website. You will also know that we have 850 seats so such schemes are significant. All of the seats on these schemes could be sold for full price. Indeed, we have MADE seats available on the Late ticket list because otherwise, members of the list would have been offered very little under the criteria! In 2007 we have a larger theatre and will have seats at £10, £20, £37 (the majority)£43 and £46. So basically there will be the same number of tickets available at the same or less than this season. Thanks Mike Volpe

I stand corrected and apologize for misrepresenting OHP's pricing scheme.

My excuse is quite simple. A couple of weeks ago I was in Holland Park, outside the theatre, looking at their advertising poster. The lowest prices listed were at £21, which my American mind translated to $42. When I got around to writing my post, I remembered the number 42 and attached a pound sign in front of it rather than a dollar sign. My bad.

Still, £21 is a lot of money when one is an unemployed voice student. Of course, in Holland Park's defense, its theater is smaller than ROH or ENO's. If they offered too many discounted tickets, they'd never reach their bottom line. I used to intern at San Diego Opera and at La Jolla Chamber Music Society's summer festival, so I understand some of the difficulties faced in keeping a program like this afloat. Management has to strike a fine balance between selling seats and staying solvent today, and cultivating tomorrow's audiences by reaching out to students and other young people. Not easy! ROH and ENO can get away with selling same day tickets at £10 or student tickets at £8.50 because (1) they charge exorbitant prices for their prime seats and (2) they have so many seats in their houses they can afford to offer sharp discounts for their crap seats and standing room. Holland Park has no such luxury, since it is a far smaller house, and they have no crap seats. There is nothing to stop one from listening for free from the park, since it is an open air theatre…you just won't be able to see the stage.

Volpe was correct that OHP's discounted tickets are mentioned on its website. However, though technically correct, it is a bit disingenuous. The "student tickets" and "free tickets for young people" schemes are mentioned on the front page of http://www.operahollandpark.com/…two screen shots down. And there is absolutely no mention of these schemes under the "tickets" link on the site. This is not good design (perhaps something Mr. Volpe should take up with his marketing department). You would think OHP would want to make this information a little more prominent, as it is good marketing, not bury it in their site where few people will see it. (Basic design principles: don't put important content on your front page more than one screen shot down, and always allow two or more ways of reaching important content on your site.) Still, the discounted and free ticket schemes exist, and I was mistaken to claim otherwise in a public forum.

Meanwhile, despite these limitations and competition from its better known rivals at the Coliseum and Covent Garden, Holland Park continues to stage quality productions. I have had several people tell me I should go see a production there. Pollard just saw Queen of Spades on Saturday and had nothing but good things to say. Others have raved about Queen of Spades, Fedora, and The Merry Widow. I would like to go and judge for myself. Alas, I can't afford even the £21 tickets; I won't have my Guildhall student ID for another couple of weeks and, thus, wouldn't be able to get the £10 student price; and I'm 14 years too old to be eligible for a free ticket.

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