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Seattle Opera.

First Timer's Guide

What do I wear?

Whatever you like. Although many people enjoy dressing up when they go to operas, there’s no dress code. At Seattle Opera you'll see people wearing everything from ball gowns and tuxes to shorts and Birkenstocks. Feel free to dress up for a special night out, dress down for comfort, or find your own happy medium.

How is an opera different from a musical?

Complicated question! The short answer is: In opera everything is sung, whereas in musicals, the characters speak between songs (with exceptions in both directions). And unlike most musicals, operas only use amplification in very rare instances.

Will I understand what’s happening?

Absolutely. Every Seattle Opera mainstage performance includes English captions that are visible from every seat in the house. If the characters aren’t singing in English, we’ll project a translation on a big screen above the stage during the performance. (And if they are singing in English, we’ll project the words anyway, to make sure you understand!) You can see the overhead screen from almost every seat in McCaw Hall, and seats with limited view of the overhead screen have individual screens on the backs of the seats in front of them.

We perform operas in their original languages because the sound of the poetry is part of the music. But we caption them so people can understand every word, follow every twist and turn of the plot, smile at every joke. English captions are a bit like subtitles for foreign films—except since opera librettos are song lyrics, not movie dialogue, you don’t have to read so much!

Sometimes newer patrons are concerned that the captions are malfunctioning when characters are singing but the translation screen is blank. Don't worry! This