Vienna State Opera to Visit Seoul; Ticket Prices Vex Fans

Classic Arts News   Vienna State Opera to Visit Seoul; Ticket Prices Vex Fans
The Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) will give its first performances in Seoul, South Korea this fall, but admission fees to the highly anticipated events have vexed locals.

The Korea Times reports that VIP tickets start at 450,000 won (currently about $492). Those along with tickets at the next level, 350,000 won (about $382), constitute the majority of seats available.

The range thereafter runs from 250,000 won ($273) to students seats at 30,000 won ($33) each.

Tthe most expensive tickets ever sold in Korea for an indoor classical music concert were 500,000 won each, reports The Korea Herald. Those were gold-laminated VIP passes for Italian Macerata Opera Festival's production of Puccini's Turandot at Seoul's Sejong Center in 2005.

The Korea Times quoted a classical music lover protesting that, plus dinner and transportation, an evening to see the famed opera company could amount to one million won ($1,093). "Why not just book a plane ticket to Austria with that sum of money?'' wrote the angry fan in an online forum.

Credia, the Korean performing arts company arranging the Staatsoper's concerts, responded by making public the total production costs, which top out at 1.1 billion won (currently around $1.2 million). Nearly 82%, including tax, goes to the Vienna State Opera.

Additional expenses include 80 million won ($87,440) for the visiting orchestra and company members during their stay, 30 million won ($32,790) in hall rental fees and another 80 million won for advertisements.

Thus with no corporate sponsors, Credia's ticket sales must amount to at least 1.3 billion won ($1.42 million) to break even, states The Korea Times, considering credit card fees, reservation fees and value added tax. This means an average ticket price of 270,000 won — nearly $300.

"This is not a popular, big-scale opera held at an Olympic stadium or outdoors," Credia is reported as saying in a statement. "We decided to invite the Vienna State Opera because it's worth introducing its appeal to domestic audiences despite possible losses on our side."

The Seoul Arts Center will present the Vienna State Opera in an opera concertante production (sets and costumes reduced in scale to highlight the music) of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro in September.

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