What to Expect

Many people like to dress up for the opera, but you can wear whatever you would like!

Try to arrive early to the opera so that you can take a look around the War Memorial Opera House before the performance begins. Completed in 1932, it is one of the last Beaux-Arts structures erected in the United States!

When you are ready to enter the auditorium, you will hand your tickets to an usher who will direct you to your seats and give you a program that will tell you more about the performance.

Once in your seat, make sure to turn off your cell phone (or any other devices that may make noise) so as not to disturb the performers.

The orchestra will already be seated in the orchestra pit, testing out their instruments and practicing a bit. The concertmaster will enter and play a note so that all the musicians can tune their instruments.

The conductor will enter and step up onto a pedestal facing the orchestra. Feel free to applaud the conductor’s entrance!

The conductor will signal to the musicians to start playing. If there is an overture (an instrumental introduction to the opera), the curtain will usually stay down until the main part of the opera begins. Otherwise, the curtain will rise.

During the performance, the audience may applaud after especially good performances. For example, the audience might clap and yell “Brava!” if a female singer has sung an especially difficult and beautiful aria.

When intermission arrives (usually at the end of the first act, but it could come after the first two acts), the audience will applaud, the curtain will go down, and the lights in the auditorium will be turned on. You may now stand up, stretch, explore the opera house a little more, grab a snack or drink, or go to the restroom. You will hear some tones like a musical scale when it is time for you to go back to your seats so that the performance can resume.

At the end of the opera, the curtain will lower, and then rise again for the curtain call. The performers, conductor, and orchestra (and sometimes a director and choreographer) will take several bows, depending on how long the audience applauds. The lights in the auditorium will come on so that everyone can exit.