During my time in Vienna, I had the pleasure to attend the famous Vienna State Opera and watch A Masked Ball, Opera by G. Verdi. The evening was beyond magical, especially never having attended a live opera.
What blew my mind, and kind of ruined the atmosphere, was how some (presumably American) tourists chose to dress and behave for the evening. Jeans, Timberland boots, baggy sweaters, and standing at the bar drinking beer straight from the bottle neck. I watched in horror, as I stood in my high heels and dress, sipping champagne.
I am open to different senses of style. You don’t have to wear a dress. I saw many women in pants, dressing them up in their own unique ways. But LACKING style is a whole other issue when it comes to events and venues like this.
You can call me pretentious, but I’m a strong believer of the well-known quote “You can never be too overdressed or overeducated” which is why I believe going to the theatre is an occasion you should dress up for.
That’s why I chose to write an open to interpretation guide to heading to the opera.
When you go to an opera, you have to be prepared to take in the FULL experience, and not just the show:
Leave your house (or hotel room) dressed up. Going to the opera is an occasion and not an everyday occurrence that you can show up in jeans and your favourite jumper. Do your hair, do nice makeup, and put together a beautiful outfit. Leave the house feeling like a princess.
Show up a little early so you can explore and take in the venue. The Vienna State Opera is really marvellous if you go up the main stairs and just look around. It’s a great place to take pictures as well for some lasting memories – and since you’re dressed up, they’ll turn out even more spectacular!
Take (a lot of) extra cash and sip champagne by the bar. Observe the people around you, who they go to the opera with, observe how they converse with others. If you’re in a foreign country, chances are there are more locals rather than tourists around you, and it’ll give you a feel of their culture.
In most cases, during the show you’ll get some sort of form of translation of the opera. In Vienna, the seats have small screens that play a direct translation of what is being sung, with a choice of language for German or English. It definitely helps understand the show and the storyline, but make sure not to keep your eyes glued to the screen, and let yourself get immersed in the live music, the singing, and the stage.
If you’re a lover of history, culture, and art, chances are you will go home from the opera in a complete and utter trance. The evening will have you wishing you could go back in time, or at least dreaming of your next similar outing.