City News

Debunking myths about the opera

Myth 1: Opera singers use microphones.

An anonymous opera reviewer recently wrote, “…something must have been wrong with her microphone on opening night because she could barely be heard at times over the course of several minutes.”

Fact: They don’t use microphones!

Opera singers are trained to produce a sound from deep within their body to project their voices unamplified. At the Opera House, a singer must carry their voices across all 1,507 seats of the Joan Sutherland Theatre (aka the Opera Theatre). Amazing!

Myth 2: You have to know an exotic language or three to understand opera.

Fact: Not true! Opera is staged with a fancy LCD screen above the stage that displays surtitles (like subtitles, and in English), so you can easily follow what is happening. If you get tired of reading, it is quite nice to simply interpret the performers’ emotions and watch the action on stage to create your own storyline. It also helps to read the one-page (free) synopsis you are given when you enter the theatre.

Myth 3: Wim Wenders once said, “Take opera for example – to go to the opera you have to dress up in a tuxedo and pay lots of money.”

Fact: You can wear anything to the opera. You could arrive at the opera wearing your dusted-off penguin suit and screen siren ball gown or a pair of boardies and a sundress. (Tiaras optional)

Myth 4: Opera tickets are way too expensive.

Opera can be pricey as it’s a very expensive art form to mount. But many young people may not realize that they can go to the opera for roughly the same price as a gig at The Metro. If you are under 30, the Youth Subscription can get you to the opera for only $60 a ticket!

So with these wild untruths about opera racing around, no wonder it was all news to me! And I guess once I share these revelations with you, I will no longer be the only one of my generation to know all this. But you know what? I don’t even mind. I am hoping you will join me this journey into the opera world, it is truly wonderful!

By Dianne Cohen