Have you ever been unsure of what is and is NOT appropriate for you to do at the opera, or been annoyed by someone else's behavior there? If so, read on for some tips on proper Opera Etiquette.
Most people like to dress up when they go to the opera because it's part of the fun! Nowadays, you can pretty much wear whatever you want. However, an evening at the opera is usually considered to be a glamorous occasion and special event, especially on an opening night. We encourage dressing in layers, so bring a sweater, wrap, or jacket just in case.
You should always make sure you get to the opera house with plenty of time to find parking, get your tickets, and be seated before the performance starts. Forty-five to thirty minutes before start time (curtain) is usually sufficient. If you are late, the ushers may let you in after the overture; however, if there is not an overture, you may have to wait until intermission, and thereby miss the entire first act!
There’s nothing worse than sitting near a chatterbox, someone text messaging, or a ringing cell phone during a performance. Please turn off anything that can make noise or emit light, refrain from opening candy wrappers, etc. Save your comments for intermission, and by no means sing along! Remember that recording devices, video, and photography are not permitted during any Virginia Opera performance.
The correct times to applaud are when the conductor takes the podium at the very beginning of the performance, after the overture, after a big aria, at the end of each act, and when the singers come out to take a bow. If you are unsure when those times are, it is best to wait and follow the lead of other audience members.
Clapping while sitting or standing is always acceptable, and you can yell "Bravo!" to show appreciation for a male singer, "Brava!" to show appreciation for a female singer, and "Bravi!" to show appreciation for a group of singers. Yelling out anything other than those three words, not to mention screaming or whistling, is inappropriate.