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Letter To The Editor - August 26, 2023

Dear Sir,

I was initially overjoyed to see that lakeside would again be hosting transmissions from the New York Metropolitan Opera (although now they will be taped).  Then I found out that there is a significant change in the start time of these transmissions, from noon to 4 p.m. 

Operas are generally 3-4 hours in length and this will exclude a lot of seniors aged 70, 80 and up, because that would mean driving in the evening in the dark.  We elder seniors (as opposed to those of 60 to 65) cannot drive at night for various reasons.  Some don’t even have a car, some can’t see at night and some can drive but have an older car not trustworthy on the highway up in the hills after dark.  Plus many cannot afford to double the cost of the opera by having to take a taxi.

Remember, many seniors here have been hit with a triple whammy: the slide of the dollar, the fact that for many people Social Security is based on salaries they had 20 years ago and has not kept up with inflation, and rentals that have doubled in price for those of us who do not own our own homes.  This leaves a lot of people with hardly any money to go out even to the occasional lunch. Now it appears most of us will not be going to the opera!

LLT said they polled their season ticket holders to find out if they would mind changing the hour. Did they poll people who don’t have the money for season tickets?  By the way, the price we paid for a ticket and sharing a ride to the Teatro Diana in Guadalajara was about nine bucks each.  It will be the equivalent in today’s prices of US$38 for the ticket plus a taxi.

LLT has not told me why they cannot use the parking lot on Saturdays when it is not being used by the school.  I suggested to them that the opera could start at 2 p.m. and we would find parking on the street because all the businesses close at that time, except for SuperLake and the restaurants.  

I also suggested to LLT that they could organize a list of people who need rides.  They could send out the list to others who could pick them up.  Or try to match them up. Their answer was that we seniors could do that. 

Another suggestion I had was that LLT could be responsible for chartering a bus that maybe we could pay to ride, hopefully for less than a taxi.  Or LLT could offer senior citizen discounts to offset the taxi expense.

I only mention things that I think would be reasonable and, as I have said many times, some may not be feasible but some might.

Jill Flyer  

Brian Mattes, president of Lakeside Little Theatre, responds:

I and other Lakeside Little Theatre representatives have had numerous email conversations with Ms. Flyer about her concerns and proposed solutions. LLT consulted extensively with Howard Willis on both ticket pricing and the start time.

Regarding ticket pricing, LLT decided to keep prices the exact same as they were last season. For those interested in the economics of showing these opera productions, 50 percent of opera ticket revenue is paid to the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City, so LLT receives only half of the revenue. Additionally, LLT must pay a royalty fee for each opera plus a large annual licensing fee to the Auditorio. 

The noon start time in prior years was not to accommodate elders who don’t drive at night, it was simply the simulcast time in our time zone. Now that opera productions are videotaped and then distributed, they can be shown at any time.

It was our wish to start the operas at an earlier time. However, LLT has no control of the parking lot. The adjacent school is in session during the week until 3 p.m. During this time, the parking lot is entirely full, with overflow parking out on the street. The school is also in use on Saturdays for college prep classes, until after 3 p.m.

The earliest start time possible is at 4 p.m., which has traditionally been the start time for all LLT matinees. Never once have we heard a complaint about this time start, and more often than not, our matinee showings have sold out. Additionally, Mr. Willis conducted his own informal survey and reported that his opera constituents had no problem with a 4 p.m. start time, with many saying that they preferred it.

It’s always been the theatre’s desire and responsibility to schedule its shows to attract the widest possible audience. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be possible to satisfy the preferences of every theatre patron.

To address Ms. Flyer’s transportation concerns, LLT cannot be responsible for a bus or a ride-sharing venture. However, might we suggest an opera attendee Facebook group organized by members to help with transportation?