If you want to see the Georgian State Singing and Dancing Ensemble at the Spreckels Theatre, you're out of luck. It sold out weeks ago.
The same holds true for the Tbilisi State Marionette Theatre at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre. If you're a San Diego school kid, however, you may get in free as part of a field trip.
Tickets to some events of the 3 1/2-week Soviet arts festival, which officially begins today, are hard to come by. Others are on the high end of the price scale. Top price for the six-hour Soviet play "Brothers and Sisters," at the Old Globe Theatre, is $125. (That does include a dinner.)
Organizers of the "San Diego Arts Festival: Treasures of the Soviet Union" say many events, even at this late date, are affordable and accessible. They note, in particular, the art exhibitions.
They argue that the festival, which some have criticized as elitist and inappropriate in a city where drugs and homelessness are on the rise, does not exclude the average person. In fact, they argue to the contrary.
"I think the festival is very accessible to the average person," said Paul Downey, spokesman for Mayor Maureen O'Connor, who conceived and championed the festival. "The Faberge egg exhibit costs $5 a person. That's cheaper than a movie. The icons from the Republic of Georgia--these are works of art thousands of years old--can be seen for $3 a person. Pay an extra $2, and you can see Soviet folk art. Children get in free with a paid adult admission.
"The prices for 'Boris Godunov' are standard for an opera in San Diego ($11 to $55) or anywhere else," he said. The San Diego Repertory Theatre's "prices are lower than usual ($17 to $22 for the Soviet play 'Slingshot'). The only thing that's really expensive is 'Brothers and Sisters,' and that's a mammoth undertaking. But it's cheaper here than it was in Tokyo. Goodness, that's a play New York has been trying to get. It figures it would cost more."
Downey said the Georgian dancers are the "hottest tickets" to play San Diego for some time--perhaps since Super Bowl XXII two years ago. Area ticket brokers agreed.
"The Georgian dancers have been our wildest tickets since the Super Bowl," said a spokeswoman for Advance Tickets, a Clairemont "scalp" agency. (She asked not to be quoted by name.)
She said her outlet sold 20 tickets to shows by the Georgian dancers at $95 each. The tickets originally listed in a range between $10 and $30.
"We didn't buy that many, and now we regret not having bought a lot more," she said.
A spokeswoman for Omni Tickets said her company suffered the same disappointment: They bought only a fistful of ducats, which were gobbled up faster than new shoes and toilet paper in downtown Kiev.
"We only bought tickets for the Georgian dancers, and we quickly sold out of that, at only $45 a ticket," $15 above the highest list price, the agent said. "We've got a few left for the appearance by the Red Army Choir at the Sports Arena, and those are $45 apiece." The range of list prices for that event was $15 to $35.
Robert Edelman, a professor of Russian and Soviet history at UC San Diego, said $55 may sound like a lot to pay for an opera ticket--it's the peak price for "Boris Godunov"--but he thinks it's almost a steal. "To me, the prices for 'Godunov' sound like a deal, wherever it's being sung."
And the content of the festival?
"It sounds terrific," said Edelman, who has made 25 trips to the Soviet Union in recent years on cultural and academic exchanges. "One of the things about Georgian culture is it's always operated at a very high level. Georgians are highly educated and developed in film, dance, theater. . . . It's big in computer science as well. It's a powerful place intellectually. It's great San Diegans are being exposed to it."
Edelman said San Diegans are getting to see shows that many Soviets would "kill" to see. He said the San Diego offerings may even be cheaper than those in Moscow, Kiev and Leningrad in the years to come.
"In the past (in the Soviet Union), tickets to cultural events were really cheap," he said. "You could see the Kirov for 3 rubles. Because of perestroika, that's changing. Fast. Institutions such as the Kirov and the Bolshoi are being asked to be self-sustaining, just like in the States. That'll drive the price sky-high . . . just like here."
Bruce Herring, executive director of the arts festival, calls the 3 1/2 weeks an "extravaganza" and a "once-in-a-lifetime experience for all San Diegans."
He said that Super Powers Sunday, which begins at 9 a.m. today in Balboa Park, is "primarily free." The Georgian dancers will perform this afternoon at the Starlight Bowl--at 1:15 and 3--for free, he said, and children's folk dancers and "child prodigies" will perform free, as will more than 3,000 local performers.
"The whole idea behind Super Powers Sunday is that it lets people who couldn't otherwise see an event see it for free," Herring said. "Besides, you can eat Russian and Georgian food all day long for $2 a plate."
Herring said 250,000 schoolchildren throughout the county will be able to see several shows free.
"The toughest ones for kids are the marionette shows," Herring said, "and those are sold out. But we'll be doing two free performances a day for school groups that are coming in on buses."
Herring said most of the art shows are "highly affordable," with children being offered discount admissions to most.
"And who knows, if you come to 'Brothers and Sisters' or 'Boris Godunov' and hang around outside for a while, you might be able to find someone willing to sell you a ticket, even at a reduced price," Herring said. "Persistence in these matters usually pays off."
Masterworks in Metal: A Millennium of Treasures. Rare sacred icon art from Soviet Georgia in precious stones and metals. B Street Pier Exhibition Hall. Oct. 29-Jan. 7. $3 for an adult and child under 12; $1 for each additional child.
Faberge: The Imperial Eggs. Miniatures of gold and precious stones created as Easter gifts for Russian royalty. San Diego Museum of Art. Oct. 22-Jan. 7. $5 (includes admission for a child under 12).
Folk Arts of the Soviet Union. Exhibition and demonstrations of Soviet work in glass, wood, metal and fabric. B Street Cruise Ship Terminal. Oct. 22-Jan. 7. $3 per adult and one child under 12; $1 for each additional child.
Commemorative Mural Painting. A work specially created for the festival by Georgian muralist Nikolai Ignatov. Centro Cultural de la Raza. Oct. 22-Nov. 12. Free.
Soviet and American Children's Art. The world seen through eyes of students from Soviet Georgia and San Diego. Museum of San Diego History. Oct. 22-Nov. 12. $4, free for children 12 and under.
Soviet-American Space Art. Science and the art of illustration meet in 75 works by Soviet and American artists. Museum of San Diego History. Oct. 22-Dec. 31. $4, free for children 12 and under.
Contemporary Soviet Photography. Images by the Soviet Union's new generation of photographers. San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts. Oct. 22-Nov. 19. $2.50, free for children under 12 and museum members.
Miniature Lacquer Art. Hand-painted miniatures evoke the fantasy world of Russian literature and folklore. San Diego Museum of Man. Oct. 22-Feb. 25. $3, $1 for children 12 to 18, 25 cents for children 6 to 11, free for children under 6 and military personnel in uniform.
Poster Art of the Soviet Union. Soviet politics and culture communicated in bold graphics of public posters. La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art. Oct. 22-Nov. 11. $3, $1 for students and seniors, 50 cents for children 5 to 12, free for children.
Faberge Gem and Mineral Carvings. Figures carved from and adorned with precious gems. San Diego Natural History Museum. Oct. 22-Jan. 7. $5, $1 for students 6 to 18, free for children 5 and under.
Avant-Garde Art. Exhibition of the three-dimensional work and etchings of artists Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin. San Diego State University Art Gallery. Oct. 28-Dec. 6. Free.
Soviet Contemporary Art. Lecture by Soviet art expert Jamey Gambrell. La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art. Oct. 28, 11 a.m. Free.
Tbilisi State Marionette Theater. The Georgian marionette troupe displays the age-old art of puppetry. Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre. Oct. 24-Nov. 11. $15. (Sold out.)
"Brothers and Sisters." A six-hour epic of the human spirit's triumph over adversity. Old Globe Theatre. Oct. 22-Nov. 19. $125, $100 (includes dinner) and $75 (without dinner).
"Slingshot." A crippled dockworker overcomes despair and isolation through optimism and love. San Diego Repertory Theatre. Oct. 22-Nov. 12. $17 to $22.
"Boris Godunov." A classic Russian opera featuring Kirov Opera's Alexander Morozov and Irina Bogacheva. Civic Theatre. Oct. 21-Oct. 31. $11 to $55.
San Diego Symphony. Soloists from the Leningrad Chamber Orchestra. Seaport Village, Embarcadero, Marina Park. Nov. 4. $12.75 to $33.75.
Child Prodigies. Young Soviets perform solo and with the San Diego Youth Symphony. Balboa Park, various locations. Oct. 22-Nov. 11. Free.
San Diego Symphony. Premieres of Russian and American works and the Western debut of the Leningrad Chamber Orchestra soloists. Symphony Hall. Oct. 27-Nov. 12. $4 to $33.75.
Recital. Van Cliburn gold medalist Alexsei Sultanov performs selections from Haydn, Chopin and more. College Avenue Baptist Church. Oct. 24. Free.
Georgian State Singing and Dancing Ensemble. The traditional dance troupe featuring leaps and swordplay, accompanied by an all-male chorus. Spreckels Theatre. Nov. 1-5. (Sold out.)
"Alexander Nevsky." The classic film with sound track by the San Diego Symphony. Symphony Hall. Oct. 27-29. $12.75 to $33.75.
Georgian Film Festival. Screenings by four Georgian directors and symposiums discussing film making in the Soviet Union. Sherwood Auditorium. Oct. 25, Nov. 1-11. $3 to $5.