Bravissimo! Opera and Theater Etiquette

Be respectful to the performers and your fellow theater-goers.
Bravissimo! Opera and Theater Etiquette
Be a class act for your night at the theater. (RetroClipArt/Shutterstock)
Bill Lindsey
As opera and theater season gets back underway, here are few suggestions to help ensure that you and those around you enjoy the performance.

Be Timely

Live performances operate on a tight schedule, making it imperative for the audience to take their seats at least 20 minutes prior to when the curtain opens. Out of respect for the performers and a desire to not distract them, those who arrive late may not be able to take their assigned seats until after intermission, instead being ushered to an area where they can see, but not be seen from the stage.

Dress for the Occasion

There is no such thing as overdressing for the opera, so feel free to break out your finest, fanciest outfits, with gowns for her and a tuxedo for him always being appropriate. This makes intermission a great opportunity to do some serious people watching. Afternoon matinees draw a more casual crowd, and while shorts may be allowed, dressing up even a little bit adds to the overall experience.


The fact that the audience can hear and see the performers means that, under some circumstances, the performers can see and hear the audience, making it important to remain quiet. It is also rude to distract those around you by fidgeting, talking, or eating snacks, all of which can negatively affect the ability of everyone in your vicinity to hear the performers. Upon taking your seat, don’t mute the phone—turn it off.

Be Enthusiastic

In addition to taking a big bow at the conclusion of the evening’s performance, the actors love hearing the enthusiastic responses from the audience after a stirring solo performance or a funny dialogue. If in doubt as to when it’s appropriate to applaud, wait to see how the rest of the audience reacts. But don’t be that person who feels the need to stand and shout “Brava!” at the top of their lungs at every opportunity.

No Cameras Allowed

Despite the fact that people seem compelled to take photos and video of themselves and everything around them regardless of the venue, the opera is not the place to use your camera or smartphone. Your raised phone will block the view of those around you while the flash could easily distract the performers and will certainly disturb everyone seated near you.
Bill Lindsey is an award-winning writer based in South Florida. He covers real estate, automobiles, timepieces, boats, and travel topics.
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