Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Saint Agnes puts her money where her mouth is: opera is for everyone

Agnes Varis is justifiably beloved by opera fans for her saintly generosity.” said Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera.

At the Met Opera, for the fourth season in a row, two hundred orchestra seats are available for $20 for regular performances Monday through Thursday (excluding galas, special events, and opening nights of new productions), 50 of which are set aside for senior citizens (who can buy online or buy calling 212-362-6000) on the day of the show.  This is made available by Met Board member Agnes Varis and her husband, Karl Leichtman.

The general public can purchase their Varis Rush Tickets at the Met box office beginning two hours before curtain, subject to availability.  

I have seen numerous performances from orchestra seats thanks to this program and to my friends Sally and others who have had the time to wait in a que at the Met for the tickets to go on sale two hours before curtain (sometimes this is 6 or more hours).    I myself have rushed a few times and it has been well worth it.   While I still love sitting at the top of the house for optimal sound, it's wonderful to pay for little for such a luxuriously comfortable seat - especially when the Family Circle might be completely sold out.  

Now, Dr. Varis has donated an additional $2.5 million dollars to extend the affordable seats program to include Friday and Saturday performances.   “I believe opera is for everyone, and so everyone should have access to it,” said Dr. Varis.   
Beginning September 27, every Monday through the end of the Met season in May, one can enter the “$25 Weekend Tickets” drawing at the Met’s web site. The drawing will be held on Tuesday morning and winners’ names posted on the web site by 12 noon.  Tickets must be paid for either by phone (212-362-6000) or at Met box office by 5:00 p.m on Wednesday.

I am grateful to Dr. Varis for her commitment to the Met Opera and for putting her a portion of her money to this use.   

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