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Tickets for Foreigners at the Bolshoi


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#1 Helene

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 07:07 PM

If I use the Bolshoi website to purchase tickets, is there a separate price for foreigners, and if so, will the site prompt me with the correct price? The prices I'm seeing on the site top out at about 300 RUR.

The tour company that I'm travelling with for the World Figure Skating Championships has dropped the Bolshoi performance of Mazeppa on 20 March in lieu of something else -- we think the circus :yahoo: -- but a friend and I don't want to leave Russia without seeing the Bolshoi theater. But I want to be sure that if I purchase tickets from the website, we're not denied admission because we paid the local price.

The only ballet options while we'll be there are The Bright Stream the night we get in after the flight, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, which conflicts with the Ice Dance Free Dance :) Does anyone have a recommendation for which ballet we should see, if we can get tickets?

#2 chiapuris

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 07:12 AM

If I use the Bolshoi website to purchase tickets, is there a separate price for foreigners, and if so, will the site prompt me with the correct price?  The prices I'm seeing on the site top out at about 300 RUR.

The tour company that I'm travelling with for the World Figure Skating Championships has dropped the Bolshoi performance of Mazeppa on 20 March in lieu of something else -- we think the circus  :yahoo:  -- but a friend and I don't want to leave Russia without seeing the Bolshoi theater.  But I want to be sure that if I purchase tickets from the website, we're not denied admission because we paid the local price.

The only ballet options while we'll be there are The Bright Stream the night we get in after the flight, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, which conflicts with the Ice Dance Free Dance :)  Does anyone have a recommendation for which ballet we should see, if we can get tickets?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

My experience with buying tickets for the Bolshoi through their website (June 2004)
was that it was easy in that the site offered a seating chart for the specific performance and with the unsold seats shown for selection.
Another thing: opera tickets were extremely reasonable [we saw Mazeppa, a Tchaikovsky opera not performed at home] and ballet tickets quite high [$65 for Bayadere, Spartacus, and $75 per ticket for Sleeping Beauty]. At seat selection for each performance the prices for different seats were given. Picking up the tickets at the box office on arrival was also a quick and easy process.

#3 Natalia

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 07:33 AM

Don't miss the Free Dance, esp. if Belbin/Agosto have a chance to make history as the 1st US team to make the podium in 20+ years!

How about the children's ballet, Chippolino, at the Saturday, March 19, 12 noon matinee? If I were you, I'd try to see that. Why?

* It's a delightful full-length ballet with neat costumes & sets, that's never performed in the west.

* The time won't conflict with any skating finals (right?)

* MOST IMPORTANTLY - It's being performed in the grand old theater that you want to see!!! Bright Stream is being performed at the NEW theater next door, not at the grand old theater. Also, you'll have plenty of chances to see Bright Stream live, iwhen the Bolshoi tours the USA this summer.

Good luck!

**** UPDATE!

I just saw the skating schedule on FSUniverse. Awwww...can't do Chippolino on the 19th as it conflicts with the all-important Ladies finals (which begin at 1:30 pm).

Are you getting in on Sunday, March 13? That seems to be the only evening without a skating conflict. If so, if I were you, I'd buy a ticket to the opera Eugene Onegin at the old theater (19:00 curtain), rather than to Bright Stream at the new theater, next door. Onegin is a beautiful opera with some dancing sequences (though not ballet). What's more important for you -- to set foot in othe old theater or to see pure ballet at the new theater? If I had never seen the old theater, I'd be itching to set foot in it.

#4 Helene

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 09:22 AM

My experience with buying tickets for the Bolshoi through their website (June 2004)
was that it was easy in that the site offered a seating chart for the specific performance and with the unsold seats shown for selection.
Another thing: opera tickets were extremely reasonable [we saw Mazeppa, a Tchaikovsky opera not performed at home] and ballet tickets quite high [$65 for Bayadere, Spartacus, and $75 per ticket for Sleeping Beauty]. At seat selection for each performance the prices for different seats were given. Picking up the tickets at the box office on arrival was also a quick and easy process.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I decided that I'd rather miss the exhibitions and the circus on Sunday and see Mazeppa, particularly since I've heard such great things about the Sturua production, and I went to the website to order tickets. I order two tickets in the orchestra, and the price was 600 RUR for both, which translates, at the current exchange rate into about $23 US. This price and that the travel agency charged $95 per ticket for the same performance (no dinner mentioned) are what made me wonder if I had purchased tickets at the "local" rate. The ticket prices for Eugene Onegin on 13 March are 750-1000 RUR per ticket and the remaining seats for A Midsummer Night's Dream are 1200 RUR. But that still would mean that the most expensive ticket would be about $35-$40 USD for one ticket.

I just want to be sure I'm not going to be arrested for using a "local" ticket at Mazeppa.

The website itself is the best ordering website for tickets I've ever used. The instructions are clear -- unless, of course, I missed some fine print about local vs. foreign ticket prices :yahoo: -- and choosing the seats from the graphic of the auditorium itself is a feature I wish Ticketmaster would adopt.

#5 Natalia

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 11:59 AM

Glad that at least you'll get to experience the old theater, hockeyfan!

The website practically assumes that anyone purchasing tix through it is a foreigner. Russians buy their tickets from kiosks at far-cheaper prices than what you've cited....but, hey, it's a 'deal' compared to Kennedy Center or Met prices!

I buy my tickets from an old lady at a kiosk in the Biblioteka Lenina metro stop. Then again, I'm married to a Russian citizen, so even if I'm questioned at the door by the ticket-taker (never have been), spouses of Russians can buy the local price. I've tried buying the tickets in the theater itself but never-ever in my 10 years of going to the Bolshoi has there been a ticket available for sale in their ticket booth. [On the other hand, I can always get a ticket at the Mariinsky Theater's ticket booth in the lobby...] Jokes have been made of how the old ladies who man the Bolshoi Theater's in-house ticket booth have never sold a ticket for years; their job consists of endlessly repeating 'Sorry - no tickets available!' [On the other hand, the tall thugs in the black-leather jackets standing near that ticket booth always seem to have plenty of tickets....always at HUGE mark-up, Euros-only accepted.]

About the opera-vs-ballet ticket prices for foreigners: Opera has always been less expensive because the local tourism industry knows that ballet is what most foreigners want to see. Red Square and "the ballet" are the top two items on every foreign visitor's checklist. This is a curious situation for Americans because, in our country, the reverse is true (opera costs much more than ballet...$250/ticket for a standard orchestra seat at the Met, for opera).

#6 Helene

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 12:35 PM

Many thanks, Natalia and chiapuris! I'm happy to know that the website prices are the foreigner prices. (Whew!) I went back and ordered tickets for Eugene Onegin on 13 March as well. I figure if we land at 11:10am, by the time we get the group through passport control and customs and get to the hotel, it will be about 3:00pm. If I can catch a short nap, I should be able to stay awake through the opera, and I'm guessing I can find someone in my group to join me. (I bought a pair.)

I'm still have more questions, more about etiquette, but I'll open another thread for those.

#7 Mashinka

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 02:24 AM

[On the other hand, the tall thugs in the black-leather jackets standing near that ticket booth always seem to have plenty of tickets....always at HUGE mark-up, Euros-only accepted.]

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Euros only? You mean they don't demand dollars anymore? (!!!)

#8 Natalia

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 04:40 AM

Correct. The dollar stopped being 'king' a while back.

#9 ina

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 07:23 AM

The prices to the Bolshoi (as well as other theatres in Moscow) are the same for Russian citizens and foreigners. This is not the case in St. Petersburg, where Russian citizens have at least this advantage - to pay less. In Moscow prices for ballet performances may reach 3200 roubles (for big classical ballets) or even more ( in case of a visiting company). In the beginning of April we will have Mariinsky in Moscow with Balanchine and Forsythe programs. The tickets are not being sold yet, but awful rumors circulate through ballet lovers that they will range from 750 roubles (no chance to see anything) to 6000 roubles! Opera tickets are much cheaper – a situation unusual for Western theaters. As to the choice of the ballets, one must take into consideration that “The Bright Stream” is performed on the New stage. So, no chance to see huge gold&red-velvet Bolshoi. Be careful buying tickets to the New Stage – there are a lot of VERY uncomfortable places there . Orchestra is wonderful, central parts of belle-etage and first tier are OK. Hope you’ll enjoy the visit to Moscow!

#10 Helene

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 05:20 PM

Thank you, ina, for your good wishes!

The difference in price between the opera and the ballet is striking. The remaining tickets were 800 RUR for Bright Stream to 1200 for the few left for A Midsummer Night's Dream. I was also surprised that tickets for Mazeppa were 300, on a Sunday with no other performances that day, compared to tickets for Eugene Onegin at 720-900, when there were two matinees and another evening performance on a different Sunday.

I decided this time to skip the ballet at the New Stage and to see both operas. I've never seen Mazeppa live, and I love the two tenor arias and the final duet from Eugene Onegin.

#11 Herman Stevens

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 07:42 PM

My experience with buying tickets for the Bolshoi through their website (June 2004)
was that it was easy in that the site offered a seating chart for the specific performance and with the unsold seats shown for selection.


I would love to have a link to this particular website.

The only one I found did not indicate sold / unsold seats.

thanks

Herman

#12 Marga

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 08:50 PM

I would love to have a link to this particular website.

The only one I found did not indicate sold / unsold seats.

thanks

Herman

I did some digging for you and found the following page on the Bolshoi website (you have to register first before you can see unsold seats):

Information on buying Bolshoi tickets and seeing seating chart with available seats

#13 Helene

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Posted 24 February 2005 - 09:34 PM

That's the page.

1. Once you register, you'll navigate to a page that has the current month in the top middle, with the previous month to go back on the left, and the next month on the right. You can use these to navigate to the appropriate month. (The schedule is up through April.)

2. For each month, you'll see a schedule of all available performances -- or after April, a message that means the data isn't ready yet -- including start time and whether it is an opera or ballet. Scroll to the performance for which you want to purchase or check tickets.

3a. To see the available tickets as a list -- section, seat number, price, click the "in table" link for the performance.

3b. To see the available tickets as colored dots in the venue (Main hall or New hall), click the "in picture" link for the performance. (By scrolling over the colored dot, you'll see the section, seat number, and price.)

4. To select one or more tickets, click the colored dot(s) on the picture or the check box(es) from the list, and click the "put into basket" button.

5. From there, you'll get a summary and be asked to confirm the order.

6. Once confirmed, you'll get a confirmation number. From there, you choose the payment method. If you don't pay for the tickets after confirmation, the system releases the tickets after a lag. If there aren't any/enough tickets for the performance you want, it's worth going back the next day to try, in case some are released.

7. Re payment methods: when I purchased tickets for the 20 March, I was given the option of paying by cash or credit card. When I purchased tickets for 13 March, I was only allowed to pay by credit card. I'm not sure if the difference was the number of days before the performance, price of the tickets, etc.

->If you pay by cash, I believe the site is trying to say you have to pay for them at the box office within 3 days of placing the order, or they'll release them.

->If you pay by credit card, you'll be given the opportunity to create an "Assist" account, in which you sign up your credit card, and enter a code issued by Assist to purchase. Usually the way this works is that the third-party "Assist" site has your credit card info, but the Bolshoi (merchant) does not, except for the last 4 digits. They accept MasterCard, Visa, and I believe a local card (possibly debit card.) You'll have to enter the CV code (the three digits on the back of a V/MC) for the site to authorize the purchase.

I chose to enter my credit card info on the site. Buying from an out-of-North America site may be why when I tried to use my credit card today for a biggish purchase today, it was declined, even when the store called it in. (Because the first thing anyone who uses a stolen credit card would buy is opera tickets.)

8. If the card goes through, you'll get a confirmation page with a sentence in red, italic type at the top of the page to say that the order has been confirmed.

9. There's an important step left: you need to print the "confirmation certificate" from the confirmation page to bring to the box office to pick up tickets (and the site says that you need to supply the last four digits of the credit card used as well. If you leave that card home when you travel, jot down or remember the last four digits.)

The data can take a minute to settle in. If you click the button too soon, you'll get an error message that says that either there was a problem with authorization or [some other text I can't remember]. If you go back to the confirmation page and wait a little while to try again, it should work.

The certificate comes up in a pop-up box. Scroll down to the "print" button, and print the certificate. (There are no browser controls in the pop-up box to print.)

It actually takes a lot less time to do than to describe. This is the best ticket ordering site I've ever used.

#14 Herman Stevens

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 02:51 AM

Thank you, Helene, it's most kind of you to take the trouble of writing this itinerary.

#15 Helene

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 08:57 AM

You're very welcome. The first time I used the site, I was a bit anxious, because the order flow for US or UK sites is almost always to pay before the order is confirmed. I tried to order a book off of the English version of an Italian site that used the "order first/pay second" logic of the Bolshoi site, and when I was transferred to the payment processing site after order confirmation, I got an error message in Italian, and an email asking why I hadn't paid!

But I love the feature of being able to select tickets on the spot, from a graphic of the theater.


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