In the footsteps of a festival booking form
The wait comes to an end. Today, the final written orders for the Munich Opera Festival 2018 will be processed. Over the last five weeks, our colleagues at the Central Box Office have handled over 37,000 ticket reservations – significantly more than in past years – and they still finished more than two weeks early. Bookings from over 30 countries came in by email, letter and via the website. There are, in fact, a lot of festival tickets available, because the programme includes over 65 events in total. You’d think there’d be something for everyone. But the sheer number of reservations already indicates that we won’t be able to fulfil every ticket request and that, unfortunately, some people will leave empty-handed. How does this selection process work, exactly? And what has a digital or “physical” booking slip gone through over the last few weeks and months? For this, we will follow the imaginary journey of a festival booking form.
Start of December 2017: I, proud booking form, arrive from the printers, together with the festival programme, at my purchaser’s house in the suburbs of Munich. But first I’m left on the bedside table – there’s just too much going on at Christmas.
30th December 2017: After all the stress at Christmas, my owner finally finds the time to take a closer look at the festival programme. She’s an all-round enthusiastic visitor and so she selects classical performances as well as an event from the Festival Workshop series: Der Ring des Nibelungen, Parsifal, Tosca, the Song Evening with Piotr Beczala and the premiere of The Passers-By. As a rule, she always reserves two tickets – in fact, she reserves tickets in category 3 and 4 for every performance of Parsifal. The more alternatives she gives, the more likely it is that she will get tickets. After she’s filled in all the details, she puts me in an envelope and sends me off.
4th January 2018: After a few days in the post, I arrive at the festival box office. I’m opened and added to an enormous pile of booking forms. They’re all chattering with each other and some have a long journey behind them. My neighbour has come all the way from Brazil!
8th January 2018: Today it’s my turn! An employee starts to read me and enter my details into the system. I look around me and see, that there are many more employees who are diligently entering the reservations from the forms into the system – it demands the highest level of concentration. I wonder how many booking forms are still to come? (Ed.: Another 10,000 in total.) Plus, there are online and email requests. After this, my life continues in digital form – and it means waiting until the processing starts.
1st February 2018: The deadline has passed – all ticket requests that have reached the festival box office are treated equally. One performance after another is processed – but it’s not my turn yet. All bookings are digitalised and sorted it according to date. The employees begin to process the reservations by ‘pulling out’ various requests at random, like in a tombola. The lucky ones who get pulled out first get the best tickets.
Unfortunately, I don’t belong to the lucky ones who get picked first and I must be patient. After two weeks it’s time again: there are only a few requests for the category 4 for the Song Evening with Piotr Beczala, and so I get to be selected. The same thing happens with The Passers-By where there are only four seats available. For Tosca and the Ring Cycle, there are another 4,000 requests that still need to be processed. Parsifal has another 10,000 ticket requests. It’s impossible for every request to be fulfilled. My chances to attend a festival premiere quickly fade before my eyes. My sender will be so disappointed! When it’s my turn, there are no longer any two consecutive seats in category 3 and 4 – not for a single Parsifal performance – what a shame! I had more luck with Tosca, where there were two places still available. They’re on the side - but still.
1st March 2018: Today my sender will be informed of the result – and be happy hopefully! Some of the other booking forms I met on my way are still waiting to be picked. But the festival booking office is working at full speed, so I’m sure they will be processed soon too.
7th March 2018: There’s a bad atmosphere among the booking forms, because today is the day that the rejections are being sent off and many people will be disappointed. But there’s one consolation for all those who went empty-handed: Parsifal will be broadcast live on the Max-Joseph-Platz and into your living rooms on the 8th of July. Plus, there are tickets remaining for some performances that were not completely sold out – you can see an overview of available tickets here. And a little tip: it’s often worth taking a look at the Ticket Forum (forum.staatsoper.de).