Is There a Dress Code?

There is no dress code.  


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.  

Can I Bring My Children?

Performances are family friendly. Depending on the tastes of your child(ren), they might appreciate certain productions more than others.  We also feature programing geared specifically for children.

Is Opera in a Foreign Language?

Opera is written in many languages, including English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Czech etc.

COT performs operas primarily in English, Italian, French and German.

Will I Understand What's Happening?



English supertitles are projected for productions sung in languages other than English, 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.

Are they Using Microphones?

There is usually no electronic sound amplification used in opera.  


In opera, the singing actors are not using microphones, and the orchestra has no sound reinforcement.  The operatically trained voice produces overtones on certain harmonic frequencies where the human ear is most sensitive to hearing.  These frequencies are also bove those produced by the orchestra, so the opera singer is able to be heard above the orchestra.


In some cases- such as very large indoor venues not originally intended for live - unamplified performances or very large outdoor venues or found spaces, there is some use of sound amplification of both instruments and singers used in order to make the performances audible to the audience.

Do I have to have prior knowledge to appreciate or understand opera?

No prior knowledge is necessary,  you can show up without any prior knowledge and enjoy your experience at the opera! 


You probably know more opera than you think you do.  Famous operatic excerpts are featured in movies, commercials, cartoons and radio advertising.  Come to the opera to discover and enjoy their operatic context.


If you do want to learn more about the perfomrnace 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. 

Is Opera about large people wearing horned helmets screaming high notes?

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.


Check out some of the images to the left of actual professional opera singers... does this challenge what you thought opera is?


Although the operatic industry, as all of the entertainment industry, features artists who look like cover models, rather than discriminating by physical appearance, opera requires that the actors must first be able to sing the notes.  So, unlike the famous hollywood star who can transpose a song down a few keys in order to be able to sing in their range for the latest movie adaptation of a broadway musical, singing actors in opera must have the required range and vocal stamina called for by the composer.  

I've been to the opera and didn't enjoy it, should I come back?
Absolutely!  Not every opera is for everyone, and not all productions of the same opera reach the audience in the same way.  


To make a comparison with film: if we see a movie that we don't like, we typically don't come out of the theater and say "I don't like movies..." but rather we say "I didn't like that movie..."

Opera seldom gets the same treatment however, and many people see one opera that they didn't enjoy, and they write off the entire artform stating that they "don't like opera," when it may be that they don't like the particular opera they saw.   


Likewise, a remake of a movie may turn out to be better than the original, or the original may remain the tried and true classic.  So, if you've been to the opera before and it wasn't entirely your thing, come back and give it a second try.  See a new production of the same opera or see something new, you might be surprised that Opera Theater can be a relevant, exciting, live-theater experience.  You may find also that your tastes have changed since you last attended the opera, or discover that although you aren't the biggest fan of Mozart, that you love Puccini or vice versa.  



In theater, the actors speak lines of dialogue with other characters, or lines of monologue by themselves.


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


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. 


America Musical theater has its roots in Opera.


In opera, the lines of dialogue are sung typically sung in what are called ensembles.  Ensembles are named for the number of characters singing:

2 characters singing = duet

3 characters singing = trio

4 characters singing = quartet etc.


Lines of monologue are sung in what is called an Aria


In most cases, unless the character is singing a song within the context of the story, the characters are not aware that they are singing.



Most of the time the characters in opera sing.


There are a number of operas however in which the characters speak.  For instance opera has a sub-genre form called "Operetta", Italian for "little opera."  Operetta typically features a comedic plot, and lines of spoken dialogue.  The form of Operetta is very similar to American Musical theater, with the scenes containing spoken lines that lead into song. Each year Cleveland Opera Theater produces an operetta in the late summer. 


Some operas, such as Don Giovanni by W.A. Mozart contains "Recitativo." pronounced like [re - chi - ta - Tivo] Recitativo is dialogue that is set to rhythmic and musical patterns and spoken / sung.  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 artform was based.



Learn More about Opera

What is different in Opera vs. Musical Theater or Theater?
Do Characters in Opera Always Sing?

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