First thing I went to was the Götz Friedrich Ring at Covent Garden (pictured left), in the gods for a pound.

I found the phrase in this article: http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music/qa-special-pianist-barry-douglas


The gods in this context is an informal term for the gallery of a theater, typically the cheapest seats which are the highest above the stage. Wikipedia suggests a few possible etymologies (though without references): it could be because gods also live high above Earth, or it could be because theater ceilings sometimes were painted with mythical scenes involving gods.

So Douglas is saying that he sat in the cheapest seats, for which the ticket price was one pound.

Both the gods and gallery seem to be chiefly British. American English would usually call this section of seats the balcony (formally) or the nosebleed seats (informally, based on the notion that the change in air pressure at high elevations can cause nosebleeds).

(As to the beginning of the sentence: Ring is presumably referring to a production of Richard Wagner's opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelung, of which Götz Friedrich was the director. Covent Garden refers to the Royal Opera House located in the Covent Garden neighborhood of London.)

  • 1
    +1 for "nosebleed seats", my current opera subscription location. :-) Jun 19 '15 at 19:06
  • 3
    In "traditionally" designed British halls, the "balcony" is at a lower level and is often expensive seating. The ROH has two "balconies", the lower one called the "grand tier". The "gods" would by rows U V and W at the back of the Amphitheatre, which are usually occupied by music students because they are the cheapest seats in the house.This is the Royal Opera House seating plan viewed from the stage: static.roh.org.uk/visit/Access-Main-Auditorium-Plan-Steos.JPG
    – alephzero
    Jun 19 '15 at 20:26
  • 2
    In the famous French film 'Les enfants du paradis', the Paradise referred to is the cheap seats at the theatre, a similar concept to 'the gods'. Oct 14 '16 at 14:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.