A guide to your first time (at the Opera!!!)

your first time
Julia Roberts y Richard Gere in Pretty Woman

There is a first time for everything. Maybe you’re just thinking of surprising somebody special or simply trying out a new music genre.

Buying first-time tickets for an opera can be the beginning of a truly unforgettable and passionate journey that can change the way you view the world and art. Nevertheless, all which surrounds opera is sometimes characterized by such rigidity and seriousness that he who enters an opera theater may swear to never set foot in it again.  

To make sure your first time is perfect and you carry out that always-wanted-to but never-could wish, OPERA WORLD has prepared some useful advice.


In order to avoid unpleasant surprises, the first thing to do is acquaint oneself with the operatic plot. Even though we may know how the opera ends, the magic in opera consists precisely in feeling the emotions even though we are familiar with the work itself. All important opera houses nowadays provide subtitles with the translation of the musical text which you can also find it on Internet websites such as Kareol und OperaGlass.     

Opera is not only musical theater, throughout European history it was a basic cultural element towards understanding political, artistic and social changes. It is therefore useful to research both the composer and the period when it was composed prior to attending the performance in order to better comprehend and fully appreciate the experience. Upon accessing the theater one is handed an opera program which usually includes a synopsis of the evening’s opera and some extra information. We suggest you take your time to read it and avoid waiting until the last minute. It is usually also accessible for download directly from the theater’s web page.

The majority of operas can also be found in video format free of charge on the Internet, this will allow you to take a first peek before you experience the real thing. 


In order to truly enjoy opera, as everything else in life, one has to be in the right spirit of mind; posses a sense of calm and concentration in addition to being devoid of any sense of hurry. 
Opera theaters are usually in the city center and it is wise to plan the trip carefully beforehand. Attentiveness beckons because once the performance starts, you won’t be allowed in until the break. This means that getting to the venue with sufficient time to grab a drink and calmly admire its entrance hall before the start of the performance is definitely much better than being unable to park and arriving late.

Make sure you know how long the opera lasts. Performances can vary from an hour and forty five minutes to four hours. This can have a somewhat negative outcome on the post-performance dinner which you were looking forward to so much.


Many people think opera is something highly sophisticated, that wonderful gift which will make a great impression on the person you invite. The problem is, if your partner for the evening is not very much interested in the subject, it can lead to a much unwanted and truly forgettable evening.

It is therefore important to be sure that your opera friend actually likes the evening’s performance. Everybody recalls that very funny movie scene from the film Pretty Woman where Vivian (Julia Roberts) attends a performance of Traviata. She immediate feels totally identified with the protagonist and this creates a direct connection with the opera. This doesn’t mean, though, that one must necessarily be a barber in Seville or an old Egyptian warrior to enjoy the show. Operas usually display universal topics such as love, death, vengeance, friendship or liberty. 

Another good idea can be to attend a performance with someone who is either well acquainted with the operatic title or is a true opera lover. Such a person can provide the necessary information, funny stories and even anecdotes to make the evening an unforgettable one. If you decide to go with your better half and there’s something you think you’ve missed out on or are struggling to comprehend, an exchange of ideas with other attendees during the break can be a good idea. 

Don’t be afraid to look silly, opera is for everyone and even the most experienced opera critic can learn from someone who is a first-timer.


Just to get things straight, the price-per-minute of an operatic performance is really much cheaper than that of a direct soccer game.
Nevertheless, opera can still be an expensive treat in cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Milan or London.

Furthermore, some theaters have a traditional Italian horseshoe structure. This means that certain seats do not guarantee full visibility but if you’re skillful enough and buy tickets in advance, you can still get decent tickets for a reasonable price. Be careful though since these tickets are the first to be sold. Find out when ticket sales start and be the first to buy them, if you can’t go directly then ask a friend to do you a favor. Remember, the savings can be really important.


If you like the opera or even if the experience was not entirely convincing, it’s always a good idea to share your views.

If you access our Facebook page (OPERA WORLD is the digital opera magazine with the highest number of followers) you’ll discover that many people like you like to share their special favorite operatic moments. You can also find us in Twitter and look at great opera pics in our Pinterest.

We at OPERA WORLD hope that you have enjoyed this brief introduction and hope that your first opera performance will be the beginning of an unforgettable and life-lasting experience.