I expressed some reservations about Opera Holland Park's new distribution method for their cheap £12 'Inspire' tickets at the time it was announced. And, wouldn't you know it, my predictions materialised.
For a start, I didn't get all the tickets I wanted. That I suppose is inevitable whenever demand exceeds supply. Perhaps that's because the new system made the distribution 'fairer' (whatever that means) - I certainly hope so.
I've missed out at the Royal Opera House and Proms too on occasion. But what's different about those two venues is the ability to book online. You can go off and do something else while your computer queues for you. And it doesn't cost you anything if you're unlucky enough to miss out on the tickets you want.
With Opera Holland Park's phone-only booking I spent ages trying to get through (in one case at significant cost) and was still disappointed. That's hardly surprising when a tiny number of box office staff have to deal with hundreds of calls all coming in at once. From my perspective it was a waste of time and money, as I had originally feared. The crazy thing is that Opera Holland Park have a perfectly good online booking system. Unlike previous years, they simply chose not to use it.
The Inspire tickets are of course exceptionally good value at just £12. It makes them extremely popular - especially when the next price up is a whopping £46.50. That's a lot more than I pay anywhere else, even Covent Garden. A price of nearly £50 would be not only a strain on my own finances; it would also make it impossible to tempt an opera novice to join me. One of the terrific things about the Inspire scheme is that it's allowed me to introduce other people to the delights of opera - one of whom has even become a Covent Garden/ENO regular. When regular-priced tickets are four times or more the price of the Inspire tickets, is it any wonder the system is overloaded when the cheap ones go on sale?
Still, at least my experience wasn't as bad as some. This message came from reader Jo: