Everyone’s price point is different. Quiz folks on an airplane and you’ll find each has paid differently for the same service. Just so, you can pony up for top ticket price at the myriad plays, ballets, operas, concerts, and other events presented every day at Lincoln Center, or spend a little extra time to find a deal that’s gentler on the wallet. Just look at all the tourists and New Yorkers lined up at TKTS booths around the city, or the plethora of apps that aid the thrifty shopper.
Of course, the cheapest tickets are the free ones, and there’s no shortage of those at Lincoln Center. The Juilliard School offers free concerts all year round, and events at the David Rubenstein Atrium are free: On January 23, you can enjoy the tropical-psychedelic rhythms of Los Cumpleaños as part of the sensational ¡VAYA! 63 series. It costs nothing to visit the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, where not only can you browse shelves, you can enjoy its spectacular exhibits. Through March 31, learn all about a titan of Broadway at In the Company of Harold Prince: Broadway Producer, Director, Collaborator. The library also offers free public programs almost every day of the week.
Below are tips for getting deals on tickets, directly from some of Lincoln Center’s constituents.
Lincoln Center Theater
Becoming a member of Lincoln Center Theater is the surest way to get a seat to its outstanding premieres (such as the new Ricky Ian Gordon–Lynn Nottage chamber opera Intimate Apparel) and membership is different from becoming a subscriber. Alas, membership is currently closed, but sign up for this email list for a notification of open enrollment. For a $50 memership fee (plus $4.50 processing) you can have purchase a $52, $62, $72 seat for tickets regularly priced at $77–$177; you can choose what shows to see and when without package requirements or binding commitments—plus the ability to exchangue or refund tickets up to 72 prior to the performance. If you are age 21–35, you can join LincTix for free. All tickets are $32 and may be purchased in advance. Although LincTix members can only buy one ticket per production, they can buy with other LincTix members and sit together. Find more information at LincTix.org.
Then there’s the new and bold programming of LCT3 in the intimate Off-Off-Broadway Claire Tow Theater. All tickets—for every show—are $30. As LCT Producing Artistic Director André Bishop explains: “Besides working with new writers and directors and designers, the LCT3 mandate, invented years ago, was to always provide affordable tickets for all. That was as important to us as anything. So, when we talk about the accomplishments of LCT3, we always talk about our vow to keep ticket prices low alongside discussions of artistic work.”
Still in school? Each day, LCT sells $32 student rush tickets two hours before a performance at the box office (subject to availability).
Jazz at Lincoln Center
Jazz at Lincoln Center offers a limited number of $10 orchestra tickets to all Rose Theater performances through its Hot Seats program. These tickets can be purchased in person at the box office the Wednesday before eligible performances. For example, Hot Seats for Transformation with Glenn Close and Ted Nash will be available Wedneseday, January 29 for the Thursday and Friday January 30–February 1 performances. For a mere sawbuck, you can catch Hollywood icon Glenn Close and renowned saxophonist Ted Nash in a jazz meditation on metamorphosis which alternates spoken and instrumental passages. More on their upcoming programming here.
Aside from Juilliard’s hundreds of free performances, all tickets to their events are $40 or less. They also have a student discount (50 percent off) for most concerts. Students need to show their ID at the box office. Click here for their performance calendar.
The Metropolitan Opera
Opera has, perhaps, the most persistent perception of being outrageously expensive. But the reality is different. Yes, a great orchestra seat to Handel’s Agrippina in February (starring Joyce DiDonato) can run to nearly $300, but you can often find $30 balcony seats; bring your lorgnette (opera glasses) or buy a pair at Met gift shop!
But the real coup, if your typing fingers are fast enough, are Metropolitan Opera Rush Tickets. Subject to availability, $25 rush tickets are offered online on the day of the performance. Tickets go on sale for Monday through Friday evening performances at 12PM ET, four hours before curtain for matinées, and at 2PM for Saturday evenings. First, be sure to create an account at MetOpera.org. Log in before trying to purchase rush tickets. They’re only available online and are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Print your tickets at home or pick them up at the box office. Customers can purchase up to two tickets to one performance every seven days. Specific seat locations are chosen by the Met and are not negotiable. Rush tickets often sell out within minutes, especially for high-demand performances.
Met Opera Students Program offers full-time undergraduate and graduate students a chance to purchase student tickets to select performances. These tickets are available online, by phone, or at the box office (beginning at 10AM the day of the performance). You must register for Met Opera Students by filling out a form. Then there are Fridays Under 40; every Friday evening a special discounted rate ($80 orchestra, $60 Grand Tier) is available for patrons 40 and under. Select Friday performances also include a pre-performance party with complimentary wine, special guests, and more; tickets for Fridays Under 40 with a pre-performance gathering are $100 in the orchestra and $80 in the Grand Tier. Patrons must register online and can purchase up to two tickets per performance. Finally, there are Orchestra Standing Room tickets ($25-$40) available online, by phone, or at the box office and Family Circle Standing Room tickets ($20-$30) available when Family Circle seating is sold out online, by phone, or at the box office.
American Ballet Theatre
Do you have children who are interested in ballet? Each spring, ABT presents its annual ABTKids performance at the Metropolitan Opera House. All tickets for the one-hour narrated performance aimed at families are $25. This year’s ABTKids is Saturday, May 16 at 11AM. For more information, visit ABT.org/abtkids.
New York City Ballet
Have you heard of New York City Ballet’s $30 for 30® program? They sell $30 rush seats to anyone ages 13 to 30 online, by phone, and in person at the box office. Tickets are available day of, but you can also register online at NYCBallet.com/30for30 to purchase tickets up to six days before a performance. NYCB also sells $35 tickets for all repertory performances in every section of the house, including orchestra.
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Your parents were right: Buy in bulk and you’ll save money. When it comes to the intimate musical pleasures of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, subscribing is the way to go. A typical CMS subscription starts at as few as three concerts and gives buyers 15 percent off single-ticket prices. Details on designing your own subscription are at ChamberMusicSociety.org. CMS also offers a 10 percent senior discount, subject to availability, and a 25 percent military discount with valid ID.
Like many organizations at Lincoln Center, CMS has deals for younger audiences. Chamber Music 360 is aimed at music-lovers between the ages of 21 and 39. A membership costs only $60 and entitles you to three CMS concert tickets, however you wish to use them.
If you’re a student with a valid ID, you should already be experienced in getting a deal. CMS offers Student Tickets: 50 percent discount in advance (though in-person purchase is required) and $10 rush tickets for college students one hour before curtain (up to two per person pending availability). Plus, there are free tickets for students grades K–12 to Alice Tully Hall concerts; visit the box office one hour prior to the performance. And, up to two adult tickets may be purchased to accompany the free student ticket at a 50 percent discount!
Remember these tips, and you may find yourself attending even more great events at Lincoln Center—all while saving money.
David Cote is an arts journalist, playwright, and opera librettist based in New York City.