That even when a sports event is sold out, there...


November 19, 1994

IT SEEMS that even when a sports event is sold out, there are often "obstructed view" or "restricted view" seats still available for those patrons willing to put up with the inconvenience. Just being there for the event is enough for some fans, who understand the compromised quality of their seating.

Too bad the Baltimore Opera Company couldn't be as forthcoming about the visibility of its productions from certain $40 seats, ordered well in advance, at the Lyric Opera House.

Numerous patrons in the Grand Tier Right seats were deprived of seeing some key scenes in the recently concluded production of "Rigoletto" because the scenes were played at the far right of the stage.

This included the intense, moving scene between Rigoletto and his dying daughter, Gilda, which is the emotional climax of the entire opera. Some audience members were standing up, straining over their neighbors, in mostly futile efforts to see this duet. It bore resemblance to a football crowd. And, to a lesser extent, there were similar frustrating contortions in earlier scenes played at far right.

It should not be too demanding on the ticket sellers to inform the public, especially one which pays a dear price for tickets, that there will be restricted views from these seats. The Baltimore company, after all, relies on ticket sales for an exceptionally high proportion of their revenues and presumably must attract repeat customers to thrive.

The stage director is responsible for determining where scenes are played. He should sit in some of these seats around the opera house to experience what the paying public will see and hear. While there may limits on the stage layout that affect where performers stand, the director could do a better job if he and the opera company were more sensitive to the seating arrangements.

The opera company, which well knows the viewing limitations of the Lyric, could make a better effort to impart that information to potential customers. These are not, after all, the cheapest seats the house. The company cannot rely on everyone plunking down $90 for a prime seat to experience regional opera.

* * *

HERE'S ONE WAY to decide an election. In Wyoming, the two candidates for a seat in the state House each got 1,941 votes. A dead heat. What to do?

Unlike some states, where a complicated process for breaking the tie would follow, Wyoming follows a simpler method: pick a name out of a hat.

So Gov. Mike Sullivan reached in his hand and grabbed a ping-pong ball containing the name of the Republican candidate. Quick. Efficient. No extra expense to taxpayers.

In Maryland, a tie vote for governor would be broken by the General Assembly. But if the Assembly is deadlocked, then the governor would ultimately be "determined by lot," i.e., the Wyoming solution.

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