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New To Opera?

Opera Etiquette

Translations:
All foreign language performances have English translations projected on a screen above the stage so that you can understand the lyrics.

Opera Attire:
Although you can dress up or dress down, most opera-goers you’ll see will be wearing business attire.

Arrive on Time:
Performances start promptly. Be sure you allow enough time for traffic and parking. Latecomers and those who exit during the performance cannot be admitted to the auditorium until an appropriate interval.

During The Opera:
Out of respect for the other opera-goers, please don’t whisper, talk, eat, or open candy wrappers. It’s also important to turn your cell phone and other electronic devices off. Please note that no photography or recording of any kind is permitted. If possible, please stay through the bows to avoid disturbing the other patrons.

Applause:
It is acceptable to applaud after an overture or aria in the middle of a performance. Applaud when the performance moves you. If you are not sure when it is appropriate for applause, follow the lead of the rest of the audience. Show appreciation to the performers by shouting “Bravo!” for a male performer, “Brava!” for a female performer, or “Bravi!” for an ensemble.

The House Staff:
At times, the house staff will make requests of audience members. They are there not only to assist you to your seats, but also to help you when any unusual situation or emergency arises.

Do you think opera is…
Foreign?
All foreign-language operas are presented with projected English translations above the stage – supertitles. Bring your glasses, so you can read the projected supertitles on a screen during the opera. If you want to read up on the story beforehand, there are endless books and websites out there.
TIPS:
Bring your glasses, so you can read the English supertitles projected above the stage. Before going, Google the opera on the internet and read (even a little) about it. You’ll be surprised how that makes everything better. Listen to a recording of the opera, or just excerpts, or something else by the same composer, to get the music in your ears beforehand.
Attend a pre-performance lecture. They’re always available, either right before the show, or at some time the week before. Check the opera company’s website for information.

Boring?
Rarely does a newcomer to opera say it’s boring. Here’s why: It’s live. It’s an orchestra, chorus and unbelievably talented soloists performing the most spectacular performing art form there is. Most first-timers aren’t expecting to get goosebumps—but they usually do. The closer you sit, the more overwhelming the experience.Prepare yourself for an amazing spectacle of music, scenery, costume and lighting. Tune your ears to voices that need no amplification, even with a full orchestra in the room. It’s pretty remarkable. Get involved with the story and the characters—let yourself be swallowed up by it. The willing suspension of disbelief applies, and it’s a blast!
TIPS:
Get into it! In other words, try to predict outcomes and plot twists, or identify with a character and follow his/her progression throughout the performance. Keep your eyes open. Look for the visual details that others might miss. What colors are you seeing a lot of? Is there a message there? Examine the costumes. What are they saying about the characters? Look at the structure of the scenery. How does it fit together and support the action? Observe the interaction among the conductor, orchestra and singers. What color is the lighting at key moments? Keep your ears open. How does the music contribute? What is the music saying when no one is singing? Does the orchestra ever take on a character? Keep your mind open. Is there historical significance to the opera? Are historical figures mentioned—or do they even appear in the opera? Zero in on the time period. If the opera is set in Europe, then what was going on in America at that time? Mozart and George Washington were contemporaries, after all.
Sit as close as possible. The closer you sit, the more amazing it is. The sound sweeps over you. You can hear the singers breathe. You hear the bows on the strings. You can not only see the expression on a singer’s face, you see the look in her eyes! The scenery is more effective at close range.

Expensive?
Hardly! Single opera seats start at $15for adults and $10 for children and students. You can find ways to pay even less. Discounts are available for groups and subscribers. Opera is great for a date, for an anniversary, or even for your grandkids.Buy season tickets to the opera, which gets you a discount and better (read closer) seats for the money. Get a group together and buy in bulk at a steep discount; besides you can all sit together and have a great time.
TIPS:
Groups get big savings. Plan to eat at home that day, not at a restaurant. Save the money and spend it on a better, closer seat.
Get a group of high school students together and bring them to the student dress rehearsal. That’s very inexpensive.

Snooty?
Not at all! Come as you are. No dress codes at the opera. Some folks like to dress up, and that’s fine. Others simply make themselves comfortable. Our goal is for you to enjoy yourselves in your own way. Drop any preconceived notions you might have about the experience. Get ready for an alternative to the mainstream. You are all there for the same reasons. It’s a rare event. It’s often dramatic and passionate. Often it’s humorous and even silly. It’s “cultural.” You can dress your own way. You can shout “bravo!” your own way (or not at all). But prepare to have a good time. Go with your friends, and it’s even better.
TIPS:
Tell your friends you’re planning on going to the opera. They’ll probably want to go with you. Invite a person of another generation to go. If you’re young, bring an older person. Or bring a young person. Maybe you’ll both be doing something for the first time, and doing it together!
Don’t worry about your clothing. Dress up or down. Just be comfortable. Opera attracts everyone from the fancy to the earthy. You’re sitting in the dark most of the time anyway!