Opera Myths

Opera Myths

Myth #1

I won’t understand it.

The days of attending opera and not understanding what’s being sung are over. Thanks to the invention of supertitles in the mid-1980s, you no longer need to be fluent in a foreign language to understand the opera. Supertitles or surtitles are English translations of what is being sung projected above the stage, and are always featured at all San Francisco Opera productions.

Myth #2

I have to dress up.

Many years ago opera was just for the elite class and royalty, and thus patrons felt it necessary to dress to the nines when attending opera. Nowadays, opera is open to everyone and there is no dress code. People come to the opera dressed in everything from jeans to evening gowns, so please feel free to attend the opera in whatever clothes you feel comfortable.

Myth #3

All opera singers are fat, screaming ladies in horned helmets.

“It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings” is a phrase typically associated with opera, and the image of a fat woman in a horned helmet screaming away in a foreign language is the great stereotype for opera around the world. That image grew out of some Wagnerian operas and is really not seen much anymore (even in productions of Wagner’s operas today!). Today’s trend for opera singers in America and throughout the world is for singers to be believable in their roles – in size, stature, voice and dress.

Myth #4

Opera is expensive.

Actually opera tickets are comparable to the prices of other live entertainment, and in some cases cost less than a major league sporting event (San Francisco Giants tickets can cost more than $100 for one seat!). Single tickets to San Francisco Opera start as low as $10 and we provide a discounts for students and other groups, and offer standing room only tickets the day of the show for only $10. These and many other special offers make opera more affordable than ever before.

Myth #5

Opera isn’t for young people.

Opera is one of the fastest growing of the performing arts with more than 20 million people attending annually. Not only are audiences growing, but they’re growing younger too! In fact, one of the fastest growing audiences at the opera is Generation X, whose attendance at opera grew by more than 18% in recent years.

Myth #6

Opera is boring.

Opera is actually a great party – a visual, aural, emotional spectacle that electrifies all the senses. We like to call it the ‘ultimate multi-media art form.’ In our very visually oriented society today, we look for and even expect entertainment that dazzles us from all around. Opera, with its spectacular sets and costumes, glorious voices, and stories that tear at our heartstrings, does exactly that, and there is something in it for everyone.

Opera Myths courtesy of Atlanta Opera.