How to have the perfect night out at the opera
Grab your friends or family and a chic outfit, and prepare for a night of beautiful music.
If you’ve ever seen the classic 1987 movie Moonstruck, you know the iconic scene where Cher gets dressed up and attends her very first opera at The Metropolitan Opera House, Puccini’s La Bohème. It’s elegant. It’s glamorous. It’s romantic. (We’ll ignore the relationship troubles that transpire in that scene for now.) Maybe the scene even made you think, “I want to go to the opera someday.” Great news — it doesn’t have to be “someday.” You can go right now, and it’s as easy as the movies make it look.
The opera is a perfect place to take a date, your family, and even the kids for a fun night out, whether for a special occasion or a random Tuesday. Yes, you heard that right! People tend to think of the opera house as a far-off, highbrow land that requires a degree in Italian and a lot of money to enter. But really, all you need is a love of music, and maybe your best dress or suit that’s already in your closet.
So if you find yourself without plans one night and want to give the opera a try, you totally can. Tickets start at just $30, and you can grab them in advance or last-minute. Treat yourself or surprise your loved ones! And don’t worry about not understanding the action: Operas all come with subtitles, and you don’t need to be fluent in another language to enjoy the beauty of the singers’ voices, soaring orchestral music, and lavish sets and costumes. If you love the glitz of a big Broadway show, you’ll have just as much fun at the opera. Even the kids will be mesmerized.
Operas play from fall to early summer at the Metropolitan Opera. There are plenty to choose from, so you can pick one for that’s just right for you. Going to the opera is an event that you won’t forget. Here’s how to have the perfect night out at the opera — and it all starts with getting tickets right here.
Choose the perfect opera for the occasion.
When choosing an opera, it’s all about who you’re going with and when you’re going. If you’re looking for a more casual show experience, perhaps if it’s your first opera, people tend to dress up less for a matinee. A special occasion — like a date night, a visit from your parents, or a vacation to New York — might call for an evening show, where you can dress to the nines.
And you’ve got to pick your perfect genre. If you’re going out for date night, a romantic opera like La Bohème might be your speed. Love drama? You’ll be thrilled by a show with a high-stakes love triangle like Tosca. Or if you want to laugh, you’ll get your kicks out of a comedic opera like Le Nozze di Figaro. Just like any other type of theatre, or movies, or TV shows, operas are diverse, and there’s a different kind of show for everyone’s taste and mood. Check out our guide to the operas playing this season.
No matter what, though, you’ll get to go to the historic Metropolitan Opera House, which is an experience in itself no matter what show you’re seeing. Careful not to get so caught up in the beauty of the venue, though, that you get distracted by the singing! (The singing and the sets onstage are so gorgeous, too, that that shouldn’t be an issue.)
Get dressed up.
Part of living your best Cher-or-Nicolas-Cage-in-Moonstruck life is dressing for the occasion. It’s not required, of course — but it does put the proverbial (and perhaps literal) bow on the whole experience. If you’re taking yourself out to the opera, why not use it as a reason to put on that suit or dress you never get to wear? You’ll fit right in with the crowds (and can compare your outfits to others’ like you’re watching a runway show), not to mention the glittering chandeliers, red carpets, and eye-catching look of the Metropolitan Opera itself.
Have dinner at the show.
There are plenty of great restaurants near Lincoln Center, but if you want the full Metropolitan Opera experience, arrive early and be first in line at the bar. You’ll find everything you need for a pre-show dinner. In lieu of chips and crackers like regular concessions stands, the opera serves full-size sandwiches that will hold you over for the show, which you can wash down with a glass of champagne, a beer, a cocktail, or a soda. Grab a pastry or candies for dessert to complete the meal.
Once you’ve got your food, you can eat it on the terrace attached to the lobby, which has couches, chairs and tables for you to sit at while overlooking Lincoln Center. It’s an indoor/outdoor dining experience you won’t get anywhere else, but it feels almost like a regular restaurant. Cheers!
Laugh, smile, cry, and applaud.
You’ve been to a show; you know the drill! Just because most operas aren’t in English doesn’t mean you won’t be able to follow along with all the ups and downs of the plot. There are subtitles in front of you to help with that, so you’ll know when someone just sang a hilarious, witty zinger or revealed a gasp-worthy plot twist. Plus, you’ll hear it in the music and see it in the movement when something joyful or dreadful happens. It’s just like going to a musical, in that you’ll be just as thrilled by the story unfolding in front of you. Just sit back and let yourself enjoy it!
Hit up the gift shop.
Yes, the opera has a gift shop! Get Met Opera T-shirts, mugs, and pins with iconic opera lyrics on them. You can get a poster for your wall, or a calendar with all the season’s shows. There are even non-opera related accessories, like scarves and jewelry, to complete your opera look. And if you just can’t get enough of the music you just heard live, there are plenty of DVDs and CDs of classic opera performances. In addition to your ticket, your program, and your photos, there are plenty of little things to remember your opera night by.
Bring the kids.
Opera’s not just for adults! You can bring kids to the opera, too, if you want to have a family day out. Some operas are more suitable for kids than others, but the Met includes a few operas in its season, around the holidays, specifically for kids and families. They’re sung in English, run two hours or less, and are based on children’s fairytales like Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and The Magic Flute. Of course, these fun-filled tales of happily ever after are enjoyable for adult audiences, too!
Get your opera tickets.
Can’t have a night at the opera without an opera ticket, of course! New York Theatre Guide has opera tickets starting at just $30. Some people think opera is inaccessible to anyone but the wealthy, but that’s just not the case — ticket prices are comparable to any other Broadway or Off-Broadway show!
So, what are you waiting for? All you and your friends need to have a perfect night at the opera is a love of music, a chic outfit, and a ticket. If you’ve got the first two already, then all you need is a ticket – and you’re already in the right place.