Going to the Opera: Etiquette faq

What should I wear?

A night at the opera is a wonderful opportunity to get dressed up and show off your finest fashions! Especially on opening nights, you will often see ladies in evening gowns and gentlemen in tuxedos. We hope you will enjoy your trip to the opera and encourage you to make it a special event. However, Youngstown is a much more casual city than others around the country and opera lovers come from all walks of life. And while you may see people dressed formally, we hope you will wear whatever you're most comfortable in. In general, tennis shoes and jeans are not usually seen, and dresses, skirts and sport jackets are the norm for most performances. But always feel comfortable sitting in whatever you choose to wear.


Will I be able to understand what they are singing?

If an Opera Western Reserve production is sung in a foreign language, we will show the English translation in super titles above the stage using a projector and screen. Often even operas in English are projected as well due to the difficulty audience members may have when hearing opera for the first time. A synopsis (summary of the plot) is provided in your program, but it is always a good idea to research the opera before coming to see it. There are also many good recordings out today, and if you have never been exposed to the operatic sound, try listening to a few scenes or arias before your first visit.


When should I clap?

Traditionally, long applause is reserved for the ends of acts and scenes with set changes. Brief applause is also given at the end of the overture, an impressive aria (solo song), or a dramatic ensemble (two or more characters singing at same time).   Some audience members may feel compelled to shout "Bravo!" for male singers, "Brava!" for female singers, and "Bravi!" for ensembles.


What if I am late?

Late seating is at the discretion of the House Manager and usually will not occur until the intermission. However, the decision to seat latecomers during applause may be made, again at the discretion of the House.


What about cell phones?

If you must bring these devices, TURN THEM OFF DURING THE ENTIRE PRODUCTION! If you must make a phone call during the intermission, always remember to turn your phone off before returning to your seat.


How long is an opera and are there any breaks?

Depending on the length of the opera, there will be intermissions (15-20 minute breaks) offered at the end of certain acts. Read through your program before the opera begins to find out when the breaks will occur. Please wait until this time to exit the hall. Most operas will run 2 1/2 to 3 hours, including intermissions.


Can we bring food or drink?

Opera Western Reserve has the distinct pleasure of performing at Youngstown's historic Stambaugh Auditorium. Stambaugh Auditorium does not permit outside food, but refreshments are offered in the lobby and Christman Hall, and is permitted in the Concert Hall.


What if I have an emergency?

If you must leave the performance before an intermission, please excuse yourself as quickly and quietly as possible. If medical attention is needed, locate the nearest usher or staff member and the proper attention will be given.