How to prepare to go to an opera

I was introduced to the world of opera by a lady who had my same carnet of operas. She knew everything and gave me some tips that I will never forget to better enjoy awesome world. So, as I wrote in the previous article of this section, you can’t just go to an opera without preparing, otherwise you’ll end up miss all the fun. Here a few tips to follow.

1) Choose wisely

If you have the chance of choosing the opera you will see (it might happen that you are invited by a friend and can’t choose it), choose an opera that lasts no more than two hours and a half (not comprising intervals). This is already the length of an average opera, but will cut out some composers like Wagner and some Mozart: they are usually longer. You can see how long an opera is by going on the the website of the theater where you will go and check out what time it finishes and how many intervals there are, otherwise there is always YouTube.

Also the language might be of your interest, especially if in the theater where you will go there are no subtitles (you can check also this on the theater website usually). Normally operas are either in Italian, French or German. I found only once one in Czech, two in English and two in Russian. Find one that is closest to a language you know, so it will be easier to follow, but there is absolutely no problem if you want to try a new one: that’s also part of the fun!

On the other hand, if you are interested in a particular piece, write it on google and find out to which opera it belongs. So you know what opera you want to listen to.

2) Read first

Before going to an opera it is very important that you read the story, otherwise it is impossible to understand anything at all. Wikipedia in this is very helpful because it usually gives a summery of the story, the background of the opera and it tells you the most important areas of the opera. Also it is a good thing to download the libretto of the opera. The libretti can usually be found very easily on the internet: you can write “name of the opera libretto pdf” and usually something comes out. If you need another language, just include it in the search and something will surely be there on the net.

3) Listen! Listen! Listen!

The best thing after finding the libretto, is to go on YouTube and search the opera you will see. Usually if you simply type the name of the opera, the first videos that come up are the most important areas. You certainly want to listen to those. Also, you can take the list of the the most famous areas from Wikipedia and look for them on YouTube. It is extremely helpful and you will notice it when you will be at the theater. However, if you have some time, you can type the name of the opera on YouTube followed by “complete opera” for a list of videos of the full opera. If you could listen to it following with the libretto even only once before going to the theater, you will enjoy it a lot more!

Tip! If you have a binocle, bring it: in this way even if you are sitting far away, you will still see what is happening on the stage!

4) Enjoy the theater!

Going to the theater is always quite exciting. I always feel like a princess even if most of the times I either have a standing place or a seat in the gallery. Enjoy your time there as much as you can. Dress up a bit so it will feel like magic, take pictures (but not during the performance!), look at the dresses of the people in the platea (usually the nicest dresses are there), during the break walk around the foyer. Listen to the music and to the great voices and let them carry you into the magical world of opera!


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