Are You A Snob If You Like Opera?

Given the wide variety of reasonably priced-performances available today, you don’t have to be wealthy – or a snob – to enjoy opera.

Are you a snob if you like opera? Western Culture say yes: The image of opera as a hobby of the upper class can be seen in the novels of Alexander Dumas and Edith Wharton, where the opera theater becomes a stage for the social dynamics of the wealthy. This image of opera continues in modern culture, where Richard Gere’s upper-crust character in “Pretty Woman” is confirmed by his love of opera. In reality however, today, anyone can enjoy this form of musical entertainment.

Traditional Barriers

The main barriers to enjoying opera have tradditonally been languages and money: Operas are written in many different languages, so only those fluent in a variety of tongues could feel comfortable with the medium. Today however, most operas offer subtitles or super-titles, enabling you to read a translation of the lines as they are sung onstage.

The other barrier is money. Many opera-houses are aware of that however, and have taken steps to lower financial barriers. These steps may come in the form of student discounts, free one-time events, and member deals. Below are a variety of cheap opera opportunities.

The Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera, in New York, has a variety of options for the frugal opera-goer. Full-time undergraduate and graduate students may sign up to receive email offers for tickets in the twenty-five to thirty-five dollar range.

There are also rush tickets. This offer is open to the general public during weekdays: You show up two hours before curtain, and pay twenty dollars for seats in the orchestra section. Availability is limited, and tickets are given on a first-come-first-serve basis. Senior citizens may reserve up to two rush tickets, starting at 10 am on the day of the performance. Proof of age is required.

If you are not a student and prefer to buy tickets in advance, you can choose to sit in the “Family Circle” section, where seats are in the twenty-five to forty-five dollar price range. The cheapest spots are in the last row, which is standing-room only, and can go for as low as twenty dollars.

The Washington National Opera

The Washington National Opera, in Washington, DC, also has a plethora of cheaper options for the would-be opera-lover. The Generation O program enables people ages 18-35 to sign up for free, to receive special ticket offers in their inbox. These offers often include orchestra-section tickets for as low as twenty-five dollars. If you are not in that age range, tickets for most productions start at twenty-five dollars, though in order to buy online more than three weeks in advance, you must be a Kennedy Center Member.

The Opera Company of Philadelphia

The Opera Company of Philadelphia has seats available in the “amphitheater center” in the twenty to forty dollar range, while seats in the “amphitheater sides” section may go for as low as five dollars. If you buy enough in advance, you can sometimes find “single full” seats for thirty-five dollars. It also offers student rush tickets, starting two hours prior to performance, where students can receive half-off any available seat. Valid student ID is required.

Outdoor Events

There are also a variety of free outdoor events, where operas are broadcast from large screens. The Washington National Opera has a free opera broadcast every fall, in the Washington Nationals ballpark.

The Metropolitan Opera has a yearly summer series of free opera broadcasts in Lincoln Center. It also has a yearly series of Live in HD events, where operas are shown in local movie theaters, for the price of a movie ticket.

Concert Operas

Concert operas are generally cheaper than their more lavish counter-parts: The opera will have limited sets and costumes, or maybe even none, depending on whether the performance is semi-staged or not. The Baltimore Concert Opera offers tickets in the twenty-five to sixty-five dollar range, with seats pretty close to the stage sometimes going for thirty-five dollars. The Concert Opera Philadelphia offers student tickets for eighteen dollars, and general admissions tickets for thirty dollars.

Student productions

Student production are another great way to see cheap opera. The Peabody Institute in Baltimore, for example, offers high-quality opera production where tickets range from ten dollars, for students, to twenty-five for the general public. Juilliard, in New York, also has high-quality reasonably-priced performances. Student productions often lack the complex scenery and costumes that one can find in professional productions.

Given the wide variety of reasonably priced-performances available today, you don’t have to be wealthy – or a snob – to enjoy opera.

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