Bolshoi fighting ticket scalpers

Planning to watch Sleeping Beauty at the Bolshoi? Don’t forget your ID! To fight an army of scalpers notorious for hawking tickets to Russia’s landmark theater at jaw-dropping prices, the Bolshoi’s management has embarked on an unprecedented move.

­ From now on, tickets will only be sold to buyers able to present their passport.

“We’ve decided to hammer away scalpers this way, because there is no law in Russia to punish touts who sell theater tickets. Therefore, we had no other choice but to implement our own measures,” Anatoly Iksanov, General Director of the Bolshoi, told Itar-Tass news agency.  

“If this doesn’t put a stop to this dangerous trend, it should at least cut it down substantially. And it will also put an end to the unfounded accusations we keep hearing at the Bolshoi about exorbitant prices,” Iksanov added.

So far it is unclear, how many tickets per person will be available and whether the measure will really deter touts. After all, presenting one’s passport is not a difficult thing to do.

It is regrettable that since the historic theater reopened on October 28 following an unprecedented $700-million facelift, only a “chosen few” have been able to buy tickets, while ordinary theater lovers simply can’t afford a visit.  

Getting to the Bolshoi has always been a challenge, with scalpers and their fraud making it next to impossible to buy tickets at acceptable prices. With no threat of possible legal action, there was nothing to deter the touts from seeking such dishonest gains.

Official ticket prices at the Bolshoi range from around $65 to some $500, depending on the seat, performance, and day of the week.

To get hold of a ticket, one has to come to the theater’s booking office, which opens at 11:00, and stand in a long queue that forms hours, if not days, beforehand. In the end, the effort does not pay off:  one never gets a ticket, as they fall straight into the scalpers’ greedy hands.

During the recent tour by the celebrated La Scala Opera Company, Bolshoi touts were offering tickets to Verdi’s Requiem for no less than $4,000, while the official price of the most expensive seats was $400.

Leave a comment