We went to the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD showing of Der Rosenkavalier on Saturday, and it was the last straw. Never mind able-bodied people sitting in the wheelchair accessible seating; there were at easily double the number of wheelchair and walker users than there were accessible seats.
I find it distasteful to compete with other disabled people (especially the very elderly disabled) for seats. In our theater they actually have a ramp down to the first row (you know, the row that seven year olds like to sit in, heads bent back at a 90 degree angle, to watch loud action movies and keep away from the grownups; the row that has driven many disability advocacy groups to file lawsuits against theater owners [link][link][link]). We went down to the first row, I got out of the chair and scooted on my butt up to the third row, and we sat in the last two seats on the aisle. My neck still hurts, and I couldn’t read the subtitles without pushing myself up with both hands to see over the row in front of me.
So this morning I exchanged our remaining live performance tickets for encore performance tickets. The encore performances are on Wednesday evenings, about three weeks after the live airing; I can only hope that far fewer elderly disabled come out for these performances.
How popular are these opera transmissions? All the live performances are sold out, and have been for months. The young ticket seller who exchanged my tickets chortled with joy; “Now I can see Carmen!” he said, planning to buy my two seats immediately after I left. What can theater owners do now to solve the access problem? In the long run, theaters will have to be built with more accessible seating!