Donor Buys $500,000 Worth of Prime Doctor Atomic Tickets to Be Redistributed for $30

Classic Arts Features   Donor Buys $500,000 Worth of Prime Doctor Atomic Tickets to Be Redistributed for $30
A generous Met board member has purchased $500,000 worth of tickets to the upcoming company debut of Doctor Atomic in order to make them more accessible to new audiences- a limited number of prime orchestra seats will be available for $30.

In an October 3 press statement the Metropolitan Opera announced that a number of prime orchestra seats, usually priced between $175 and $220, will be available for $30 for all nine performances of John Adams's Doctor Atomic.

Agnes Varis, a managing director of the Met board, and her husband Karl Leichtman, have purchased $500,000 worth of some of the best orchestra seats so that they can be redistributed at this lower price. Dr. Varis and Mr. Leichtman are already production sponsors of John Adams's opera about the invention of the atomic bomb, which opens at the Met on October 13. Additionally, Dr. Varis and Mr. Leichtman are the funders of the Met's successful Rush Ticket program, which provides $100 orchestra seats for $20 on Monday through Thursday evenings during the course of the entire season.

"Doctor Atomic has tremendous relevance today, and I feel that we should make it available to as many people as possible," Dr. Varis said. "It's important for the Met to put on significant contemporary works that are accessible to everyone. One of the ways to do this is to expand our Rush Ticket program so that more people can come and enjoy Doctor Atomic from the greatest seats at the Met."

Met General Manager Peter Gelb said, "Dr. Varis and Mr. Leichtman are interested in the democratization of art, and they put their ideas into strong action. The Met is very lucky to have them as our supporters."

The special Doctor Atomic Rush Ticket program will offer an additional minimum of 200 seats for each of the nine performances of Doctor Atomic, with several of the performances offering twice that number. The seats will be prime center orchestra tickets sold for $30 each. Regular Rush Tickets will also be available for qualifying performances.

Due to the larger number of Rush Tickets for this particular production, all Doctor Atomic Rush Tickets will be available at the Box Office, as follows:

-12 noon day of performance for weekdays
-10 AM day of performance for matinees (October 18 and November 8)
-2 PM day of performance for Saturday evenings (October 25 and November 1)

For all other operas, Rush Tickets will continue to go on sale two hours before curtain time on the day of the performance (weekdays only, not available on weekends), as before.

As is the case with the full season Rush Ticket program, 50 of the new Doctor Atomic prime seat Rush Tickets will be reserved for senior citizens. All senior citizen Rush Tickets go on sale at noon the day of the performance via telephone and on the Met web site,, with the exception of the Doctor Atomic matinee performances, which will go on sale at 10 AM.


Doctor Atomic, about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the creation of the atomic bomb, is the first opera by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams to be presented by the Metropolitan Opera. The piece is set in New Mexico in the summer of 1945, as scientists, led by Oppenheimer, and the military prepare to test the first nuclear bomb, events that will radically change the course and fabric of history. The new production, starring Gerald Finley in the title role, will open at the Met on Monday, October 13, at 8:00 p.m. When the opera premiered in San Francisco in October of 2005, The Guardian said, "Adams's ecstatically lyrical writing and the music's visionary eloquence make this a modern masterpiece." The New York Times later wrote that Doctor Atomic was "the most complex and inventive of Mr. Adams's works, an engrossing operatic drama."

Penny Woolcock, an award-winning British TV and film director who worked with Adams on the 2003 film of his opera The Death of Klinghoffer, is making both her Met and her opera-directing debut with this new production. Doctor Atomic will be conducted by Alan Gilbert, the New York Philharmonic's music director designate, also in his Met debut. The production will be seen live in movie theaters around the world on November 8 as part of The Met: Live in HD, the highly successful series of performance transmissions.

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