An etiquette guide to the Opera for beginners
Opera doesn’t have to be for the rich and over 50s. Anybody can go to enjoy an evening out with twisting plots, high emotion, dramatic music and beautiful singing.
Here are some tips for anyone that is a little worried about what to expect.
Five tips for newbies
1. There’s no need to worry about what to wear. You can wear pretty much what you want. Dress as if you were going to the theatre and don’t fret. There are some special occasions that require black tie and it’s great to have an excuse to glam up but these events are usually advertised.
2. You don’t have to listen in stony silence. Okay, during the overture the audience may well listen quietly but when there’s a show-stopping aria don’t be surprised if they burst into appreciative applause and shouts. If someone does something on stage that makes your heart stop, then they are likely to be applauded.
3. Have a bit of fun with this because where else can you give praise in Italian other than in Italy? If you are tempted to join in the chorus of praise remember that opera lovers like getting their Italian gender endings correct.So: “brava!” for a woman, “bravo!” for man and “bravi!” for everyone. On the other hand, you can just whistle, shout or stay entirely silent depending on your mood.
4. Boos aren’t just for pop stars arriving on stage 3 hours late . Unlike in straight theatre, opera t audiences are unafraid of expressing their views. Often this is aimed at a particular performer, the conductor or – if it’s an especially radical production – the director. This is particularly pronounced in Italy, where boos regularly greet the end of a production. Less so here, but not unknown.