Are you trying to impress your new business partners by taking them to the Opera House but you’re not sure what the etiquette is either? Are you trying to impress your significant other with a fancy date that involves more than just a restaurant and romantic candles? Or, perhaps you were intrigued by the voices of some opera singers and decided to see for yourself what’s all the fuss about?
Going to the opera will bring out the best or the worst in you, and there is only one way to find out. Don’t worry if you’re not fluent in Italian, Spanish or German as you don’t need to understand the words. Opera is more like a state of mind, so you will either hate it or love it, and there is no middle way.
No matter if you’re going to the famous Met Opera in New York, the San Francisco Opera or the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, the etiquette is the same, and you must follow it.
Follow the dress code
Although Americans are the epitome of casual style, you won’t see anyone wearing shorts and flip-flops to the theater or opera. Unless you are properly dressed, you won’t even come near the buildings that are home to some of the most prestigious opera and ballet ensembles in the entire world.
Some events, especially premiers are reserved to the finest people in the city, local celebrities, politicians, and cultural people, meaning the dress code will most likely be black tie. Although many operas around the world have loosened up their rules regarding the dress code, you can only stretch as far as smart casual (tie and bow remain mandatory) for men and cocktail dressing for women.
In other words, women should wear mid to high heels, dresses or skirts, while men should always wear a shirt, a dinner jacket, and appropriate shoes.
Arrive on time
There is nothing more disrespectful or disturbing than someone who arrives late at the event. Some tickets to performances will specify whether or not they are allowing those to arrive late to be seated at all, so keep that in mind when you’re preparing your schedule for the day.
Thus, you should always arrive at least 20 minutes before the beginning of the show, to have enough time to leave your coat, find your seat, and prepare for the performance.
You must treat this event as any other important one that requires your attendance at a certain time like an important business meeting or catching the train. If you are late, you will not only disturb other people that will have to stand up to help you get to your seat but you will also show a lack of respect for those performing on stage.
Phones are off during the event
Showing respect for those performing in front of you also means that phones should be turned off or on silent mode throughout the event. Keep in mind that once the lights turn off and the show begins, any light coming from a screen will be seen from afar and will disturb other people who are trying to pay attention.
Most opera houses will display an audio warning for people to turn off their phones five minutes before the show starts, so make sure to comply with this common-sense rule.
If the opera show you are attending is divided into two, three or four acts, there is usually a small break of 10-15 minutes in-between acts. This is the only time when you are allowed to leave the hall, search for a restroom or check your phone.
Bring the right gadgets with you
Front seats are extremely expensive and are usually reserved for celebrities and local personalities. If you happen to only find available seats in the back, chances are you will need a pair of binoculars or a monocular perfect for opera to be able to see clearly what’s happening on the stage.
Luckily, you won’t have to spend a fortune on these items as there are plenty of good models available on the market. Seeing the singers’ facial expressions is part of the experience so you will have to invest in binoculars if you want to understand and even learn to appreciate opera.