Despite visiting Paris about ten times in the past few years, I have never been to the theatre or opera there. For the former, it's because my French is nowhere near good enough to cope with anything except perhaps mime. But with opera, that doesn't matter. Half the time, they're singing in another language, the plots of many operas could fit on a postage stamp, and it's not difficult to follow the rest.
So I'd quite like to see an opera or two there. What's stopped me before now is a combination of there not being anything on while I'm there and childcare.
Now JA is a bit older (and has seen one*), I looked at the official Opera De Paris site in preparation for a visit in a few months time. Ooh, Don Giovanni.. but not while we're there**. Ooh2, the Barber of Seville, and on the Sunday afternoon we're there. I check with JA and she'd be interested in that. Booking didn't open until today.
I'd gathered that the system for booking was a bit odd – you need to register even to see what tickets are available, for example – so I registered last night in order to save time this morning. It wants your name, address, date of birth(?), phone number, and email address. In exchange, it gives you a number. That, along with your surname, is what you need to log in, instead of anything sensible like your email address or asking you to come up with a username.
This morning, I try booking. The first problem is that the site is busy – there's a CAPTCHA to enter and then you get a waiting page that tells you that you're in a queue and the wait is longer than fifteen minutes. It's still saying that when it's time to take JA to school. By the time I'm back (and it's ten minutes each way) my turn has come and, because I didn't press a button at the time, gone so I need to start again. I do that, and about ten minutes later, the 'more than fifteen minutes' message becomes a countdown – interestingly, they're managing demand by spreading out visitors rather than going 'ah, we have less than x people buying tickets now, let some more in' – then I am allowed to see the site.
OK, log in. Nope, it won't accept the magic number / surname combination. Try again, pasting the number in from the confirmation email, nope.
So I register again, using a different email address. No confirmation email (yet) but it allows me to see what's available… and it's all too expensive. The cheaper seats aren't been offered to me and I'm not about to pay 95 Euro each. It doesn't help that the acoustics of the Opera Bastille are apparently poor and you need to be in the stalls where there are fewer cheap seats. I wonder if it's like that for other dates… no, there are some for the two other performances I look at and – ooh – when I look back on the one day we are there, the 40 Euro seats are in the list. Hmm, it's not the cheapest they do, but ok. Right, I'd like deux seats, dans la parterre*** rather than la 1er ou 2eme balcon****. Although I've told it I'd prefer English, I get a message in French that clearly means 'those aren't available'. Right, in the circles? No. One ticket? No, and then that price level disappears again.
Pressing refresh a few times over the past hour shows the most expensive seats for that performance have gone and come back again, but not the cheaper ones.
Oh well, the time after next… What's the betting I have to register again again?
* In a live broadcast at a cinema rather than 'in person'. It was the Metropolitan Opera's recent Don Giovanni which was very very good – I haven't broken the news that it's downhill from there to her.
** Fortunately for the wallet, it's sold out now or a tiny bit of me would have been tempted to see what it would cost to have a day trip.
*** Or is it le? I am so grateful English dropped the idea of everything having a gender.
**** See above!