Many people like to dress up when they go to the opera - it is considered
part of the fun. These days you can pretty much wear what you want,
although most people still enjoy the glamour aspect. Formal attire
or semi-formal would not be out of place for a "night at the
It is acceptable (and appreciated!) to applaud after an overture.
Singers perform arias in the middle of scenes, some of which will
be recognizable to you. Show your appreciation if it's done well.
Customarily, applauding at the end of each scene is appreciated.
If you are not sure if a time is appropriate for applause just
follow the lead of the rest of the audience.
If you are late the ushers will usually ask you to wait until
after the overture or even the first after the first act!
Of course it is disturbing to other
audience members if you have to trip through the aisle to you
seat at any time after the performance has begun. Best to plan
on arriving 30 minutes prior to curtain time.
About the Orchestra
The orchestra members enter the pit and tune their instruments
before the show begins. When done, the instrumentalists become
quiet. Next the conductor enters the pit. It is acceptable (and
appreciated!) for the audience to applaud the entry of the conductor.
The conductor nods to the audience, faces the orchestra at his
or her podium, and raises arms signaling the start of the overture.
Remember this is a live performance
and the performers are encouraged by the response they get from
the audience. The performers can hear, and at times, see you!
If you are enjoying the performance let the performers know it!
Things that go "Beep"
For the enjoyment of the entire audience you should turn
off cell phones, pagers, and beeping watches, etc...
for Opera Singing
- A devoted fan or enthusiast.
- The front part of the stage between the curtain and the orchestra
- Italian word for "air." a song for solo voice with
- The medium male voice. lies between the low bass voice and the
higher tenor voice.
- The period of music from the early to mid 1600's to the mid
1700's. Baroque operas are characterized by emotional, highly
stylized and flowery presentations.
The lowest of the male voices.
- A male voice which combines the quality of the baritone with
the depth of the bass, avoiding the extremes of either range.
- The most serious bass voice.
- Italian for "beautiful singing." In a bel canto style
opera, the beauty of singing is more important than the plot or
- Bravo is the Italian word for expressing appreciation to a male
- Bravo is the Italian word for
expressing appreciation to a female performer
- Bravo is the Italian word for
expressing appreciation to two or more performers.
- Near the end of an aria, a series of difficult, fast high notes
that allow the singer to demonstrate vocal ability.
- The period in music from roughly the mid 1700's to the early
- A very high pitched soprano. also the description of singing
which pertains to great feats of agility - fast singing, high
singing, trills, and embellishments.
dell'arte - A style of dramatic presentation popular in
Italy from the 16th century on; the commedia characters were highly
stylized and the plots frequently revolved around disguises, mistaken
identities and misunderstandings.
- Getting progressively louder.
- Getting progressively softer.
- Literally, "goddess," a female opera star. Often
used to describe a demanding or fussy opera star.
- A musical composition for two performers.
encore - A request
to play again
falsetto - The high
part of a man's voice, sounding like a woman's voice.
finale - Last song of an act,
usually involving a large number of singers.
finale ultimo - The final
- Opera which is sung from start to finish, as opposed to opera
which may have spoken dialogue.
heldentenor - German
for "heroic tenor." a heldentenor has a brilliant
top register (high notes) combined with a strong lower voice,
almost like a baritone, and is capable of long passages which
require great vocal stamina.
libretto - Italian
for "little book." the libretto is the text of
maestro - Italian
for "master." a title of courtesy, given, especially
in Italy, to conductors, composers and directors.
mezza voce - Italian
for "medium voice." when singing mezza voce, the singer
reduces the volume so as to intensify the emotion.
- The female voice between the soprano (highest) and the contralto
- Italian for "comic opera."
- Opera in which there is some spoken dialogue as opposed to grand
opera in which there is none.
- A formal, serious opera, particularly prevalent in the 18th
operetta - Light
hearted opera with spoken dialogue, such as a musical.
opus - A single
work or composition.
orchestra - The
group of musicians which accompany a staged presentation.
overture - The instrumental
introduction to an opera. usually incorporates themes which will
be heard later in the the opera.
prelude - The instrumental
introduction to an individual act within an opera.
prima donna - Italian
for "first lady." the female star of an opera.
raked stage - A
stage which slants upward away from the view of the audience.
range - The division
of the human voice according to six basic types: soprano, mezzo
soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone and bass.
romantic - The period
of music between the early to mid 1800's and the early 1900's.
soprano - The highest
- Characterized by short, clipped, rapid articulation.
stage right/stage left
- The division of the stage from the performer's point of view;
when a performer goes stage right, he moves to his own right and
to the audience's left.
A performer who appears in a non-singing role.
tempo - The speed
of a musical passage or composition.
tenor - The highest
- Two rapidly and repeatedly alternated notes.
- The position on stage farthest or nearest the audience. when
a performer moves downstage, he goes toward the audience.
verismo - Italian
for "truth." a documentay style of opera involving
vibrato - The slightly
wavering quality that a singer has in his voice while sustaining