Sunday, March 18, 2018

Opera de Paris

If you were attending the opera in Paris, with shows at both the Palais Garnier and Opéra Bastille, where would you sit for good sound and sightlines in each theater? And how comfortable are the seats? (I am broad-beamed.)

Asking for a friend.


Eric Pease said...

we saw Nadine Sierra in Rigoletto at Opéra Bastille last June and there is a lovely broad beamed statue by Niki de St Phalle there. my novice ears are shot so I can't accurately describe the acoustics but the rear orchestra seats were comfortable.

we only did the group tour at Garner and that's highly recommended.

highlight of the trip was the pita sandwich at Mizon! was new to me. sadly closed on Saturdays for the sabbath which we learned when we tried to go back the next day :-(

Mike A. said...

According to my spreadsheet, I saw shows at Garnier 4 times and at Bastille 5 times, in various locations and various price categories. Here is what I could remember about my seats.

Palais Garnier
* First time I went there, I splurged and I got 1st row of the 1st cicle front box (Category Optima). I remember that was REALLY nice. The boxes in Garnier are very old-style, with red velvet dividers (nicer than Parterre in the Met). Garnier is not that big, that spot is just perfect if money not an issue. Much easier to read the supertitle too. But just like Parterre, the seats are individual seats.
* The last time (Jephtha last month) I was at 2nd circle front boxes, 2nd row. No problems with sightline and sound, except for the lifted individual seats (just like the Parterre 2nd/3rd rows). It gets somewhat uncomfortable for long operas.
* The previous one I went cheap (because of my company's request), and I got 1st row on 2nd circle side boxes. (Category 3). Obviously, the sightline wasn't great (I remember a lot of the actions were deep in the stage), but sound was great, and yes, way cheaper too.
* I only sit in the orchestra once, and that was for a ballet. Comfortable seats, I think bigger than in War Memorial, with some leg room.

Opera Bastille
* First of all, be aware that Bastille has much wider category range than Garnier. I sat in the Orchestra three times; Row 3 (Category Optima), Row 5 (Category 1) and Row 19 (Category 3). It is a huge theater, with modern seats. Seats are plush and pretty comfortable. Be aware that if you sit too close to the stage, it'll be quite hard to read the supertitle as it is way up there.
* Bastille has only 2 Balconies. For Don Carlos last fall, I sit in 1st Balcony, rather to the side (Category 2). Because the stage of Bastille is so tall, I remember I couldn't see the supertitle above the stage. They provide small supertitle for people in the area, but it's smaller. Seats are regular plush opera seats, and I think it's at steeper angle so easier to see the stage (just like in Dress Circle at War Memorial). The other time I sat in the back of First Balcony (Category 6), and I remember I was quite disappointed, as it was really far and pretty hard to see (the feeling is like being sitting at the Balcony in War Memorial). (To be clear, the disappointment is because I don't think it's worth to hassle going all the way there and not being able to see clearly).

Hope this helps. By the way, there are a couple way of saving money at Opera de Paris. Create an account and sign up for the mailing list. Occasionally, they'll send you 20% discount offer for select shows and select categories for low-selling shows. In addition, they have the so-called Pass' Opera, that gives 20% discount offer for select shows/categories (I found that Pass' Opera is less useful though).

For sold-out shows, there's the Paris Opera official exchange website (https://boursechange.operadeparis.fr/). That's how I got my Don Carlos ticket before, as it was long sold-out right after it was released to public. It's not the easiest website to navigate, and the process is very tedious, but the tickets are REAL!

If "your friend" is looking for tickets for this season, PM me separately and I can check if there's offer for the date/show. I can even help to buy those tickets too.

I'm still debating whether or not to subscribe for next season, as I REALLY REALLY want to see the star-studded casts of "Les Huguenots" and "Les Troyens"!

Chanterelle said...

1. This may be obvious, but you can also check the Bourse Opera for shows that are not sold out; you might even get better seats if you're not competing with everyone else shut out of a popular show. If you buy an e-ticket via the Bourse, make sure the vendor sends you an actual e-ticket (with a Q-code, that fits on your phone screen) and not just a photograph of the printed e-ticket. This happened to me twice this season!

2. For my shape (curvy), seats at Bastille are oddly designed, with lumbar cushioning that hits too low for comfort. I always count on rolling up a sweater to put at waist level to support my lower back. This does not apply to the fold-down jump seats (strapontin, marked S in the seat designation), which can be uncomfortable if you're not small.

3. When you order a ticket online from the Paris Opera, you are automatically assigned a seat within your chosen category. There is an option to view/change your seat at some point before payment. Do take advantage of that.

4. Both opera houses feel overheated to me--I almost always end off removing my jacket or cardigan and even sometimes my silk scarf.

Finally, don't restrict yourself to the Paris Opera. Other houses that have staged operas--vaguely in descending order of grandeur--include Theatre des Champs-Elysées (which also has an official ticket exchange), Opéra Comique, Theatre de l'Athenee-Louis Jouvet, Bouffes du Nord. Not opera, but on Susanna Malkki is conducting the Helsinki Phil at the new Seine Musicale. A visit to the Philharmonie de Paris is a must. You might also luck into a baroque opera at Versailles. The hard part will be narrowing your choices.