Curtain Time! A Guide to Enjoying Your Opera Experience to the Fullest

BY Bill Lindsey TIMEJanuary 7, 2022 PRINT

Attending a live performance of the opera is a feast for all the senses, as you take in the sights and sounds of the performers, the orchestra, and the other guests around you.

What to Expect

The opera is an exciting, interactive experience during which the guests and performers can see and hear each other. Be thoughtful and courteous, and refrain from talking or fidgeting. If you must take a sip of water, be discreet as your actions can be distracting to those around you. The overall experience can be a bit daunting for children, so make arrangements for a babysitter.

Be on Time

Plan to be in your seat at least 15 to 20 minutes prior to curtain going up. This allows you time to use the restroom if needed, read the program, allow nearby guests to take their seats, and generally be prepared to enjoy the performance. If you arrive after the performance has begun you may be directed to temporary seating in order to not disturb the other guests. You will be able to claim your seats after intermission.

Dress to Impress

A quick look around the lobby makes it clear many guests enjoy dressing for the occasion. There is no such thing as being overdressed for the opera! That being said, for all but formal events, a cocktail dress for the ladies and a sports coat or suit for the gentlemen are acceptable. Jeans, shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops are not appropriate, even for afternoon matinees. Dressing up, even just a bit, adds to the overall experience.

It’s OK to Applaud!

In most cases of live performances, applause tends to be held for the conclusion of an act. However, it’s absolutely acceptable to briefly applaud a stirring solo or group performance during an act. The performers thrive on this recognition; look closely and you’ll see beaming smiles. Adding an enthusiastic “brava” or “bravissima” to honor a female performer, or “bravo” or “bravissimo” for a male performer, is a thoughtful touch. A standing ovation should be reserved for the conclusion of the opera.

No-Phone Zone

As soon as you take your seat, phones should be turned off, not merely muted. Screens lighting up to indicate incoming calls or texts distract from the performance. Calls or texts can be made or returned during the intermission from the lobby, not from your seat. While the desire to capture the performance, especially if any performers are family members, is understandable, using your phone or a camera to take photos or video is absolutely not allowed.

Bill Lindsey
Bill Lindsey is an award-winning writer based in South Florida. He covers real estate, automobiles, timepieces, boats, and travel topics.
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