I went to bed with a nasty crick in my neck, caused by alternately craning then nodding to follow surtitles suspended twice the full height of the set above the stage while still keeping an eye on the action (such as was visible behind the gesticulations of the conductor) from a central vantage point in stalls row E.
After half an hour or so of this I resorted, in the authentic manner, to the libretto in the program book, despite the 3.75 point font (I measured) and the semi-darkness. My mother always said it would ruin my eyes, but my childhood practice of secretly reading by the hall light when I was meant to be asleep in bed has clearly paid off.
After interval I moved back to an empty seat off on the side of row M. This was much better, but I don’t know how the rows forward of this could have been classified A reserve except for French speakers.
Moral: buy the cheap seat, no matter how generous the first-timer discount. But then, next year I won’t be eligible for the first-timer discount anyway.