“Get over it—and I don’t mean that facetiously,” says Rod Gideons, general director of the Sacramento Opera. “Nowadays, we make opera so accessible; don’t use ‘I don’t know what to expect’ as an excuse.”
A lot of people think of opera as “high art,” says Gideons, and that’s what scares them away. Truth is, there’s something in opera for almost everyone. “Anyone interested in compelling theater and storylines, and certainly music, would be interested in opera,” he explains.
Still not buying it? Gideons offers these tips designed to ease your OA (Opera Anxiety):
• Start small. Your first opera shouldn’t be a five-hour epic, like Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. Start with something light—maybe The Barber of Seville or The Marriage of Figaro.
• Read up on it. Familiarize yourself with the opera you’re about to see by reading a synopsis. Do a quick online search or read the program before the curtain rises.
• Language barrier? Fuggedaboudit. At most operas, including the Sacramento Opera, English translations are provided on a screen above the stage.
• Don’t worry about what to wear. Sure, you want to dress appropriately for an evening out. “But we’re way beyond tuxes and gowns,” Gideons assures.
• Try it in high-def first. Ease into opera by catching a live broadcast of a Metropolitan Opera performance at a local movie theater. “This is a great first experience,” Gideons says. For information on showings, go to metoperafamily.org.
• Turn to your local opera company. Sacramento Opera offers some very cool presentations for opera newbies, including “Opera 101,” “Demystifying Opera” and “Opera Talks.” Visit sacopera.org or call (916) 737-1000.