If you are new to opera, welcome! We love this brilliant, moving, surprising art form, and we’re sure you will too. Join us for a performance in the theatre and see what it’s all about.

You don’t need to know anything at all about opera before attending, but if you’d like to find out a bit more, you’ll find our top FAQs on this page.

Read on to discover more, to find out about our Try it ON scheme for new attenders (and bag yourself a top ticket for £20), or to join our Under 30s scheme. You can also call our Box Office team on 0113 223 3600 – we’ll be more than happy to talk about upcoming productions and help you find the right one to start with.

Never been to the opera? Try it ON with our new scheme for first-timers, and get great seats for your first show for just £20!

Find out more


Which opera should I choose?

If you’ve never been to the opera before, La bohème (on in Autumn 2019), is a great choice. It’s fast paced, has beautiful, soaring music, characters that you can identify with, moments of comedy as well as heartbreak – a bit of everything!

If you’d like to explore further and need help deciding, get in touch via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or call our friendly Box Office team on 0113 223 3600 and we’ll be happy to help.

Sébastien Guèze as Rodolfo and Gabriela Iştoc as Mimì in La bohème, 2014 © Robert Workman

How much does it cost?

Opera is much cheaper than many people think, with tickets starting from just £15 at Leeds Grand Theatre (prices vary by venue).

If you have never been to the opera before, you can also sign up to get £20 tickets in the stalls via our Try it ON scheme, for performances from September 2019. Students and young people aged 16-29 can sign up to Opera North’s free Under 30s scheme and get tickets for just £10, as well as other great benefits.

Audiences at Leeds Grand Theatre © Tom Arber

How long is an opera?

Most operas are the length of an average film (between two and three hours), but with an interval – or sometimes two – during which you can stretch your legs, get a drink at the bar, or whatever you wish!

Each opera’s running time is displayed on the relevant webpage for each opera.

Helen Évora, Lorna James and, Amy J. Payne as Three Ladies and Kang Wang as Tamino in The Magic Flute, 2019 © Alastair Muir

Will I be able to understand what is being sung?

Yes. Many operas here are performed in English translation. Those that are performed in their original language (like Italian, French or German) are surtitled, which means that a translation appears on screens at the side of the stage. As singing takes longer than speaking, your eyes can easily move between stage and screen, so you won’t miss any of the action.

The language in which every opera will be performed can be found on the relevant webpage for each opera.

Where should I sit?  

That depends on how much you want to spend. The most expensive seats tend to be in the stalls or dress circle, and the cheapest high up in the balcony. However, you can get a good view and hear everything from nearly all areas of each theatre that we perform in.

With our Try it ON scheme, you can book fantastic seats in the stalls – close to the action – for just £20!

Audiences at Leeds Grand Theatre © Tom Arber

What should I wear?

There is no dress code for Opera North performances. If you want to dress up and make a special occasion of it, go for it, but jeans are equally welcome. It’s your night!

Under 30s event © Tom Arber

Do I need to read up beforehand?

There’s no need to prepare before you come along, although a quick glance through the plot synopsis (you’ll find one on the webpage for each opera) is always handy.

We also produce an introductory ‘in a nutshell’ guide for each opera which includes a summary of the plot, characters, set and costume designs, musical highlights to listen out for and a little about the opera’s history

The Greek Passion in a nutshell »
Giulio Cesare in a nutshell »
La bohème in a nutshell »

Sébastien Guèze as Rodolfo and Phillip Rhodes as Marcello in La bohème, 2014 © Robert Workman

Is there any opera etiquette I need to follow?

Not really. Generally, applause happens at the end of an act, or after a particularly spectacular solo or duet. If you’re not sure, wait for others around you.

We do ask that phones are on silent and put away during the performance (please don’t take any photos or video), but before and afterwards, feel free to snap away. Even better, tag us on Instagram or Twitter and let us know how your opera experience is going!

Stage rehearsal of L'enfant et les sortilèges at Leeds Grand Theatre © Tom Arber

What will it sound like?

Opera singers do not use microphones, as their voices are trained to project over a full orchestra. This means that there is no barrier between the performer’s voice and audience, making opera a unique experience. The live orchestra itself, which can be up to 60 players (depending on the piece), provides an extra thrill.

However, the music of one composer can sound totally unlike another. Hear extracts of different operas on our YouTube channel or Soundcloud.

What else can I expect from an opera?

– Opera deals with all kinds of human experiences – it can surprise people how relevant opera can feel, whether the piece was written last week or 100 years ago.

– It’s perfect for people who love experiencing emotion in its rawest form. Nowadays, opera singers are also talented actors, so you can become fully immersed in all the drama.

– ‘Opera’ is as broad a genre as ‘film’ – there’s comedy, tragedy, thrillers, and everything in between. Each season, we programme a wide variety of pieces, so there is something for everyone. Explore what’s on below…

Giselle Allen as Tosca and Robert Hayward as Scarpia in Tosca, 2018 © Richard H Smith


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