Why you should become a FIEND

February 19, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Posted in music | 4 Comments
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Members’ booking opened today for Jonas Kaufmann’s gig at the Royal Festival Hall. The programme’s still unconfirmed, so it may be Yodelling The Classics or perhaps an Eartha Kitt retrospective, but frankly, we don’t care. This is the Greatest Living Tenor, and we want IN. Unfortunately, so does everyone else.

Being a Friend, of course, is the way to go. Pay your yearly fee, and get priority booking. The price depends on the venue. Some charge one flat sum for everyone; others propose a scary hierarchy of increasingly exclusive ranks of Friendship, from entry-level, giving you a badge and a t-shirt, up to £HE,LLO.OO, which lets you jump the toilet queue in the interval, say ‘The usual, please, Fiona darling’ to the bar staff, and lick peanut butter from the belly of your favourite performer up to three times a year.

The arts need supporting, of course, and there’s a long tradition of benefaction (if that’s a word). But what about impecunious fans, unable to cough up membership fees for every venue in which our favourites might perform? After all the Inamorati, Friends-With-Benefits, Exes-We’re-Still-On-Good-Terms-With, Slight-Infatuations, Friends-of-Friends, Facebook-Friends and People-We-Nod-To-Uncertainly-In-The-Street have had their share, there may be precious few tickets left for us to scrap over.


Tension mounts as Joyce DiDonato fans struggle to remember her favourite pizza topping

That’s why I’m proposing a new category of ticket purchaser: the Fiend. Become a Fiend, and book first for all events your favourite is performing in, regardless of venue or price. That’s FIRST. Before EVERYONE else. There’s no joining fee or annual subscription: being a Fiend is entirely free of charge. All you have to do is answer a set of questions, randomly selected from an enormous database, under exam conditions. Examples for Jonas fans are given below:

  1. Jonas was amazed that his Andrea Chénier costumes lacked…
    1. Whalebone corsetry
    2. iPhone pockets
    3. Automatic poppers
  2. Jonas has described learning to use his natural tenor voice as…
    1. Like driving a truck
    2. Like growing a beard
    3. Like waiting for a bus, oh my GOODNESS, totally incredible, you know, how you wait for HOURS and then three come along at once, haha!

(Databases for other stars are still under construction; sample questions can be provided on request. The Iestyn Davies exam, for example, is expected to include advanced matching of Farrow & Ball paint shades, and the practical identification of dog hair on settees.)

The benefits to fans of the Fiend scheme are obvious, but venues will also profit; no longer will they need to employ ushers with long sticks to prod snoring audience members, or devote scant staff resources to fielding 176 phone calls a day from the same person enquiring about returns. And EVERYONE will need to buy a programme. If only to fan themselves with it.

(Thanks to @SecondNorn for the conversation that provoked this, and for her unrivalled JK knowledge.)


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  1. Brilliant! Just what I feel about all these Friends schemes. I’m at hot-on-the-mouse-button man myself at 10:00:00 a.m. when tickets go on sale. Except for the RSC at Stratford, I admit.

    I think my finest mouse-button triumphs were (a) getting a ticket for the 2007 Ring Cycle at Covent Garden [while being secretly pleased it was John Tomlinson rather than Bryn Terfel as Wotan] and (b) getting four tickets for Rattle & the Berliner Philharmoniker last Saturday at RFH.

    My only criticism is about buying a programme. Why? In many European venues, they are included in the ticket price (together with public transport). And when we saw the Berliner Philharmoniker and Barenboim in the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford (another mouse-button triumph for two tickets – and it’s a tiny venue) there was a programme on every seat, compliments of Volkswagen.

    The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam has it sorted. For a not very expensive ticket, you get – in addition to the concert – public transport, a programme, and a simple drink in the interval. Does away with that queues and elbows stuff!

    • GOSH re. Concertgebouw. That’s an almost fairytale level of sensibleness.

      • And the Dutch are so sensible that I’ve witnessed men in evening suits and women in gowns leave the Concertgebouw at the end of the evening to go home on their bicycles.

        The interval drink thing: long tables in the hallways and corridors. Coffee, wine, beer, fruit juice. No rush, nobody taking four, everybody happy.

        • Fantastic. It all sounds ridiculously civilised.

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