A Beginner's Guide to Opera

Posted on 22 March 2017

We are so excited to be setting sail with Ulla’s Odyssey next week! The wonderful people from OperaUpClose tell us what opera is like and what to expect from seeing an opera in their fab Beginner’s Guide!

Do I need to know the story before seeing the opera?
The short answer is ‘No’! A good production will be the perfect combination of beautiful music, and compelling drama. You wouldn’t read the plot of a new play before you saw it, would you?

Having said all that, there is no harm in being prepared. If you’ll feel more confident about trying opera by familiarising yourself with the story beforehand (and you don’t mind knowing the ending), then you’ll be able to find the plots of almost any opera online.

What do I wear?
Whatever you like. We like to answer that question with ‘‘what would you wear to the pub?’‘. If that’s jeans, trainers and a t-shirt, that’s fine. If it’s a suit, that’s also fine.

When can I clap?
To clap, or not to clap? That is a question that divides audiences, and definitely puts off new-comers. We think that if you like something enough to give it a clap – go for it! Equally, if you are too wrapped up in the story and the music to want to interrupt it with clapping, that’s fine too. There’s genuinely no right or wrong thing to do. Here at OperaUpClose, we do not mind if or when you holla, just don’t boo. If you’re having a great time let us know!

How long will it last?
This will depend on the opera and the production. You can almost always find a rough running time by doing a quick internet search.

Do they sing all the way through?
It depends. There are as many types of opera as there are types of literary styles. Most of these are sung all the way through, but some of these have sections of spoken dialogue.

What’s the best opera for a first-timer?
It’s a tricky one, this, as it really depends on your taste. The big-name ‘romantic’ operas by Puccini and Verdi are often recommended as a first encounter with opera, as they have wonderful tunes (lots of which you’ll recognise, even if you think you don’t know the opera) and psychologically realistic characters.

For the full Beginner’s Guide to Opera please visit the OperaUpClose website here.