Operatic Cock-up

[Update: Just added title to the monetary units, some people complained]

The original plan for this evening included going to see the Cinderella opera.

It’s a project of our local community center, though luckily singers are from the Israeli Opera and are supposed to be good and professional.
The production being local mostly means that there are a lot of local kids running around in the background, or something of the sort. Or at least I hope that what it means, because otherwise it may be too painful to listen too, or even see (Yea, yea, I’m a snob. But have you listened to non-opera singers trying to sing opera? Or to not particularly good opera-singers trying to sing opera? Once you gain even a little taste in this, it’s just horrid).

Our community center has been running (well, trying to run with varying levels of success, more at the end of this post) for several years now shows and performances. Last week we were at a jazz concert, and Smadar (Who is the community center executive in charge of the cultural aspects) reminded  everyone that the first run of Cinderella will be the following week (today).

We talked to her, and after being assured that the singers are pros, we asked for tickets. She didn’t have any on her, but as she is in charge of everything, and we do have some level of personal acquaintance, she said that she’ll reserve tickets for us to take (and pay for) on the concert evening.

Even better, she said that while the normal ticket price was 75 ILS, she’ll give us a discount to 45 ILS since we’re subscribed to some of the community center series (the Jazz one). We asked if we should call her the following day to make sure everything is alright, but were assured that there’s no need. This is not the first time we arranged tickets by talking with Smadar, so that was that.

Entering into the hall’s parking lot we got a small surprise, it was nearly full. This does not usually happen it. On the other hand, there are probably lots of proud parents of the little kid, so it was not completely unexpected.

We entered into the lobby. The place was jam-packed with people. I made my way to the ticket’s desk (a lady sitting in front of a small wooden table. This is a community center with a hall, not a concert hall by itself), and told the lady our name and that we have tickets reserved. She searched, and didn’t find anything.

We went to find Smadar. He initial response, in a semi-panicky and despairing voice "There are no tickets. We don’t have any tickets. Wait and I’ll see what we can do".

We waited a minute, to see what the heck is going on. Turns out that they had a huge amount of people coming. People who got mailed invitation. Invitations that did not have on them words such as "The Invitation is void unless confirmed by phone" or "Please confirm your invitation to reserve a ticket". Plenty of people assumed that the invitation means they can get a seat.
This apparently was the original idea, but they expected most invitations to be ignored…

So they were swamped by dozens of people wanting their free tickets.
Ah, yes, the invitations did not require to pay for a seat. This means that us, as long time customers and subscribers got a discount, while plenty of other people got a free invitation.
Under the circumstances we didn’t confront Smadar with this, but we’ll ask her.

Regardless of that, we did reserve tickets in advance, directly with Smadar. So we came to her again and told her that. To which she replied that:

  1. Tickets for this performance were not under her direct control, so she thought they had tickets while in fact they were already out of them last week. So while she tried to get us tickets, it was simply impossible.
  2. She completely forgot we asked her for tickets.

Yes, I did notice that the two claims are not consistent with each other.

She told us, and the other people there, that they’re trying to see if they have any unclaimed seats, and will try to put people there. It seemed to us that the hall was already quite full, and there were a lot of people outside, so we decided to give up and go home. For some strange reason it also seemed that Smadar’s priorities tended more towards finding place for the free invitees than to paying customers like us…

A bit on past community center cultural event in my city

Several examples springs to mind as illustrative.

One thing which doesn’t work is classical music. Last week Smadar tried to arrange a classical-music series. They managed to arrange very good orchestras. The concerts were located in the large hall (same one the opera today was at) with about (crude estimate by me) 300 seats.
How were the concerts? They stopped the series after only two concerts. In both concerts there were 10+ players on stage. In the first concert there were 4 people in the audience. In the second concert there were 8.
Enough said.

One thing which moderately works is the jazz series. Each year they
arrange about 5-6 jazz performances, each with a different jazz band
they bring over. There aren’t a lot of takers, but nearly enough. They
try to make it with a jazz-bar like feeling, so people are given seats
near round tables, and there’s a free drinks bar (water, soft drinks,
and beer of varying qualities They started by offering selection of
three types of beer, than stopped and picked by themselves). It’s nice,
and the bands range from decent to good. It feels that there aren’t a
lot of takers, but due to the arrangement it doesn’t feel deserted.

One thing which works exceptionally well? How about a theater show? Based on The Miser by Molière? What can I have against that, eh? A good cultural sign, right? They run several shows that sold out, and brought it over for another few rounds.
Oh, did I forget to mention? This is the version translated and adapted to the Arab-Moroccan language, and taking place in Casablanca.

This should be enough to give you an idea.

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