The Opera: It's Not What You Think

Ryan Heshmati

June 10, 2022

When the opera is brought up, it often conjures up thoughts of elitism and snobbery. As a result, I found myself struggling to decide on attire, feeling intimidated. Recently, I began researching famous operas and became interested in one in particular, “Don Giovanni” for its outlandish storyline of a womanizer who is searched for by his conquests. Feeling it was important to experience in person, I picked up tickets for opening night at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco for June 4th.

While the opera sounds like a 5 star club, it is priced quite reasonably, relative to concerts. While concert tickets generally end up around the one hundred dollar mark, balcony seats on opening night were only $61. On other days the prices get even better, with the same balcony seats dropping down to $35. Some may prefer closer seats, which are more expensive, but the balcony not only offers a steal, but also acoustics, some argue, are superior to elsewhere in the house.

Surfing the internet for proper attire yields contrasting results. Some suggest formal attire while others insist on opera goers wearing whatever they feel most comfortable. After some deliberation and consideration of the dress code, I settled on a balance between formal and casual. To fit into both categories, my outfit consisted of sneakers, jeans, a dress shirt, and a suit jacket. The suit jacket is actually quite a convenient choice for its extra pocket space, which held my wallet and tickets.

Upon arrival it became clear that a formal/casual blend was the correct choice, fitting in perfectly between those dressed to the nines and those in t-shirts. Although the plurality of patrons seemed to be grey-haired, the audience consisted of many different ages. While some families came together, similar to how one might opt for a family movie night out, others utilized the opera for date night. The multitude or attitudes and situations of opera goers indicated that this was not a house of snobbery, but rather a place anyone interested in enjoying came for a great performance.

Opening night proved to be a major success with long lasting applause accompanying the ending of “Don Giovanni” and happy faces exiting their seats. Not only is the opera financially accessible to many walks of life, but also serves many different purposes, for both families with children, couples on a date, and everything in between. The flexibility in dress further broadens the pool of people who could be interested, with the casual equally as welcome as the tuxedo bearers. All in all, the opera deserves more attention as a spot to be, regardless of who it is you plan to be with.