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What to Expect

You've come to the right place to experience opera for the first time, and hopefully for many years to come! Read more below and make your plans to join Cleveland Opera Theater for an exciting experience!

What IS opera?

  • Opera is theater set to music.

  • In opera there is a plot.  The story can be comedic, tragic and anywhere in between.


  • The expressive qualities of music, combine with the expressive qualities of text to communicate more powerfully


  • The characters are portrayed by singing actors who sing (and sometimes speak) their lines.


  • There are costumes, sets, lights, & orchestra.

"Oh, OPERA - that's large people wearing horned helmets, right?"

No.  Opera is a dynamic art form of live theatrical entertainment that welcomes performers of all shapes and sizes.  


Only a few of the hundreds of operas composed have characters who wear any type of helmet or battle gear.  


There is a misconception that opera singers are large people. While opera welcomes performers of all shapes and sizes, there has been a shift in recent years in the opera industry to feature artists who look more like cover models, than the "stereotypical opera singer" that the public might have in its mind's eye.

Will I be able to understand what's happening?

While Cleveland Opera Theater performs operas in English, Italian, French and German, you will ALWAYS know what is going on onstage.


English supertitles are projected for our productions, so you'll understand every word!  


Many audience members comment that even though the opera was in a language they did not speak, they knew exactly what was going on because the performances so clearly communicated the story and the details of the dramatic action. Come experience the power of opera for yourself.

Do I have to dress up?

Come to the opera dressed as you are comfortable. Formal evening wear is just as welcome as jeans and casual attire.  


Cleveland Opera Theater welcomes you to experience opera in an way that is welcoming and accessible.


From a black-tie night on the town to a casual night out with friends and family.  

Do I need to study the opera to appreciate it?

You can show up without any prior knowledge and enjoy your experience at the opera! 


If you want to learn more about the performance you are about to see, if you are new to opera, or if want to get inside information about what to watch and listen for in the performance, please attend Opera 101, a fast-paced and informative introduction held on-site before each performance. 

Do characters in opera always sing?

Most of the time the characters in opera sing.


Some operas contain "Recitativo"[re-chi-ta-TIVO]. Recitativo is dialogue that is set to rhythmic and musical patterns.  This Recitative can be accompanied by the entire orchestra, a small ensemble of instruments, or by the harpsichord alone.  Recitativo is the closest approximation of the Greek theatrical tradition upon which the operatic art form was based.

Opera has a sub-genre form called "Operetta," Italian for "little opera,"  which typically feature comedic plots and some spoken dialogue.  The form of Operetta is very similar to American Musical theater

What is the difference between opera and musical theater?

America Musical theater has its roots in Opera.


Opera is based on the traditions of Greek Theater which combined the communicative powers of text with the the communicative powers of music.


In theater, the actors speak lines of dialogue with other characters, or lines of monologue by themselves. Opera unites the rhythm of speech with the rhythm of music. The emotional, evocative, and expressive qualities of each are united in order to achieve a more powerful experience than spoken word or music could achieve alone. 

Can I bring my children?

Most performances at Cleveland Opera Theater are family friendly. Depending on the ages and tastes of your child(ren), they might appreciate certain productions more than others.  We also feature programing geared specifically for children. When in doubt, please feel free to email Cleveland Opera Theater's Director of Education and Engagement for more information about the event!

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