The Orchestra is divided up into left, center, and right blocks of seats. These, are in turn split into Orchestra Prime (the
front rows), Orchestra Balance (the middle), and (gee, there's a surprise) Orchestra Rear, which includes most of the seats
located under the overhanging Center Parterre Boxes.
The best seats in the orchestra are in the center block. Seats on the aisle are often reserved by the house--and are given
to critics, staff, or the occasional singer--baritone Samuel Ramey was present at "Prince Igor" last season. Orchestra Prime
is generally reserved for subscribers. Don't sit dead center behind the conductor in the
first few rows--his head might block your view of the action. Finally, for you tall operaphiles, these seats have better leg
room than the ones upstairs.
Parterre Boxes ($90, $210 per seat)
Side and center parterres are the premium seats at the Met. You usually have to buy the whole box, but you and your party
will be seated in luxurious comfort on individual chairs with a fabulous view of the stage. This is where Bill Clinton--Cavaradossi to Ken Starr's Baron Scarpia--would sit if he went to see "Tosca."
Grand Tier ($75 sides; $90, $130 center)
Moving up a level, the posh Grand Tier is the first of the Met's four balcony levels--and the one with the restaurant, the
outdoor promenade, the good cocktail bar, and the merchandise table manned by the Metropolitan Opera Guild's crack troops. The seats cost the same as the Orchestra.
Dress Circle ($42 sides; $70 center)
The Dress Circle gives a fine, commanding view of the house--it's a great place to sit for "spectacle" productions like
"Aida" and "Turandot"--for a somewhat reasonable price. These are the middle-ground seats at the Met. However, space is limited in the Dress Circle, the seats can be cramped and uncomfortable. Also, don't sit too far toward the back--you'll get stuck under the balcony.
Balcony ($24 sides; $42 center)
The Balcony is the front half of the highest level of the Met--and offers an excellent view of the stage--although at this height opera glasses become a necessity. Still, the cool thing about sitting in the balcony is the sense of space--there's no upper deck hanging over your head blocking the view.
Family Circle ($17 sides; $24 center)
It used to be a lot cheaper to sit up here, but the Family Circle (the rear, rear balcony) has the best acoustics--and most
enthusiastic and opinionated fans--in the Met. The good news is you can usually get tickets up here. The bad news is you really need those opera glasses. Also, don't buy aisle seats in the Family Circle--the badly placed banisters can block your view of the stage and thus ruin your night at the opera.
Box Seats (prices listed above)
Box seats (which are only available when purchased at the Met ticket windows) let you see about 3/4ths of the stage--the rest gets blocked off by the Met's proscenium and by the boxes themselves. As a rule, buy your box seat tickets as far away from the stage as possible--the farther back you sit, the better you'll see.
There are two types of boxes--upper and lower. Lower boxes (seats 1-4) cram four ticket-holders into a tiny area big enough
for three, but offer a slightly better view of the stage. Upper boxes (seats 5 and 6) are for two people only, and have more
legroom. To reach your box seats, enter the level they are on, and make for the staircases to the extreme right or left of
the center seats. Go down the stairs,
then through the red, velvet curtain, and you'll be in a white corridor with a series of doors. These doors lead to the box
seats. Take careful note of the seating diagrams and compare them to your tickets before you enter--because the seating
arrangements can be confusing.
Score Desks ($10)
Located to the rear of the family circle box seats, the score desks are generally bought by music students and opera enthusiasts
who are more interested in the music than the action onstage. These super-bargain seats enable opera lovers to follow the opera with a copy of the score in
front of them on a little desk. You can't see the stage from these seats, but score desk users are known to stand up from
their seats, and lean over the edge of the Family Circle to get a better look at the action.
Standing Room ($11; $13)
SR tickets go on sale one hour before the opera starts. Having one gives you just that--a place to stand and watch the
opera--from the rear of any section of the house except the parterre boxes and the balcony. The standing room spaces are
equipped with Met titles, and a place to lean your arms. And on the upper levels, they're only seconds away from the Met's
Ezio Pinza memorial water fountains.