Opera Etiquette: Attending the Theater in Polite Company

Opera EtiquetteYou have finally purchased an opera ticket and cannot wait to enjoy a night of classical entertainment. Unfortunately, you’re feeling a little intimidated by the thought of attending such a formal event.

For many people, operatic performances evoke thoughts of women in long gloves and smartly dressed men in top hats. While this may seem scary to the uninitiated, theaters are more accessible now than they were in the past. Just follow proper opera etiquette and get ready to spend the night in polite company.

Getting Ready for the Opera

Before you even arrive at the opera house, check where you will sit. Preferred Seating has a few examples of what an opera chair would look like. Usually, you can find the seat number on the chair before it. While an usher will likely help you find your seat, knowing where to sit beforehand will speed things along.

Operas today have no dress code, but this doesn’t mean you should arrive in shorts and flip-flops. Business or smart casual is the recommended attire. This means a nice dress for the women and a tie for the men.

Opera attire is a bit more formal during gala nights or special occasions. Generally speaking, performances staged during Christmas will require a black tie and long ball gowns.

At the Opera

Once you arrive at the opera house, don’t be afraid to chat with friends and family. Polite banter is encouraged – the opera is a great place to socialize!

However, once you’re seated, you must remain silent while waiting for the performance to start. Make sure you turn off all phones and electronic devices. Remember that even the light from your phone disrupts the performance.

Audiences at the opera are not afraid to voice out their opinions. This is particularly true if you’re watching in Europe. Audiences will whistle, shout, or even boo the performers if they feel like it. Let your emotions run free, but remember to avoid expletives.

At the opera, you’re among other lovers of the arts. Be on your best behavior at all times, but don’t forget to enjoy yourself.