Opera 101 – The Basics

Will I understand what the performers are singing?

Most of our performances are presented with “surtitles,” which are English translations projected above the stage (as opposed to subtitles, which are projected at the bottom of a screen). You may not speak or understand Italian, French, or German, but surtitles have made it possible for English-speaking audiences to follow the story and the action of each opera, no matter which language it’s performed in.

Is being on time important?

Check your ticket for the curtain time, and check the directions and parking page for information about how to get to the venue. Please allow ample time for traffic and parking conditions.

Out of consideration for the performers and other members of the audience, we observe a “no late seating” policy. Those arriving after the performance has begun will be seated at an appropriate pause or at intermission. We do not offer refunds or exchanges for latecomers.

What is considered common courtesy when attending an opera?

Turn off wristwatch alarms, cell phones, and beepers for the duration of the show. We’ll remind you again with an announcement before the performance.

Be modest with your use of fragrances as some patrons may have allergies.

Wait until intermission or after the performance to discuss the show. Even whispers carry!

Unwrap throat-lozenges and hard candies before the performance begins. Because of the theater’s excellent acoustics, even the smallest sounds carry. One crinkly wrapper can affect the opera experience of others.

If you have a complaint about another guest, please tell an usher rather than approaching the person yourself.

How long does an opera last?

Operas generally last anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours or sometimes longer. This includes time for intermission(s).

How do I show my appreciation to the talent?

Enthusiastic displays of appreciation are always welcome after a well-executed aria! It is customary to shout “Bravo!” (for a male singer), “Brava!” (for a female singer), or “Bravi” (for the whole cast). All three expressions simply mean “terrific.”

What do I wear to the opera?

These days, opera is “come as you are.” Many opera-goers wear comfortable, business-appropriate clothing, and many dress casually as well. More formal attire is often worn, but not required. In modern day Tulsa, you’ll see opera-goers wearing everything from ball gowns to cowboy boots. Feel free to dress up for a special night out, dress down for comfort, or dress to fit the theme of the event.

What makes opera different than a musical?

It’s interesting to see how musical theater grew out of the operatic tradition. Both styles share a common history, originating from the blending of music, drama, and performance. While opera and musical theater share historical roots, they have evolved into distinct and captivating forms of expression. Opera is renowned for its grandeur, often featuring larger-than-life sets, elaborate costumes, and powerful vocal performances that fill the theater with rich, emotional melodies. Operas typically explore profound themes and emotions, transporting audiences to different worlds telling stories in often stylized ways. Musical theater brings a different narrative approach to the stage. It seamlessly combines music, dialogue, and dance to tell compelling stories that resonate with audiences. Musical theater productions often reflect contemporary themes and incorporate a diverse range of musical genres. The characters and their experiences are relatable, allowing audiences to connect deeply with the stories being told.

While opera and musical theater have distinct characteristics, they often cross-pollinate, enriching each other’s worlds. Composers and creators draw inspiration from both styles, leading to innovative works that bridge the gap between the two genres. This collaboration highlights the ongoing dialogue between tradition and innovation in the world of performing arts. At our opera company, we cherish the timeless beauty and the dynamic storytelling of and opera and musical theater. Whether you’re captivated by the grand arias of opera or the infectious melodies of musical theater, we invite you to join us in celebrating the diversity and creativity of our productions!

What does my ticket price include?

Your ticket price includes a facility and theater district fees. Ticket prices are the same regardless of whether you purchase your ticket online, by phone, or in person at the ticket office.

Should I take children to the opera?

Many operas contain adult themes. Before bringing children, it is best to make sure that the material is appropriate for their age or maturity level. Our ticket office staff can help you make this determination.

Our Tulsa Youth Opera productions showcase the talents of students in grades 3rd-12th with some adult cast members, while our Raise Your Voice Tour presents operas performed by the Filstrup Resident Artists specifically written for young audiences. Both programs are always perfect for children!

If bringing children, instruct them in proper audience behavior. It is also helpful to familiarize them with the story in advance so that they know what to expect.

Thank you for your consideration. Enjoy the performance!