Opera First Timer?

If you’ve not been to an opera before, you’re likely to have a number of questions about what to expect.


Where should I sit?
Your choice of seat will depend on how much you’ve got to spend and the availability of tickets in a particular price band. The most expensive seats tend to be in the dress circle, with the cheapest seats in ‘the gods’ or balcony.


What should I wear?
Whatever you want. Some people like to dress up, but you really don’t have to.


Do I need to know anything beforehand?
It’s wise to spend a few minutes getting to grips with the basic plotline. You can do this by reading the brief synopsis for the opera here on the website. A much fuller synopsis appears in the production programme, available for sale immediately prior to the performance in the theatre foyer.


How will I understand what’s happening?
Scottish Opera uses supertitles for its performances in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness, no matter what language the opera is sung in. English translation appears simultaneously on the supertitle screens near to the stage, so you should be able to follow the plot as you are going along. Note that in some parts of most theatres, supertitles are not visible; make sure you have a seat with a view of the supertitle screens when buying your tickets.


And of course, Scottish Opera has Opera Unwrapped performances for all of its productions in larger theatres. These free hour-long tasters give you the chance to learn about the opera and hear some of the best-known music before you attend the full performance.


What happens if I'm late?
Don't worry. There is usually an opportunity to take your seat after the overture, the orchestral introduction to the opera. This generally lasts about five to ten minutes. If you arrive at the theatre after this, you will probably have to wait until either the end of the first act or until the first interval.


When should I clap?
Applause is appreciated at various points throughout an opera performance. A round of applause usually greets the conductor each time he enters the orchestra pit (you might not be able to see him, but the applause will tell you that he is there). Audience members will often applaud after well-known or well-sung arias and always at the end of acts. There will normally be a number of curtain calls for the principal singers and conductor at the end of the performance.