How to Get into Opera

Opera is an Amazing Art Form, Here’s How Beginners Can Get Started

Steven Gambardella
7 min readOct 31, 2020

It’s that sound that does it for me — the orchestra tuning up.

It sparks that first fizz of pleasure. The lights dim, people in the audience take their last chance to cough or clear their throats, the curtains go up and you’re suddenly immersed in a world of somebody else’s making.

Opera is perhaps the most exquisite art form around. It combines grand live music with drama and sumptuous stage sets.

Like whiskey, cigars, oysters and other complex delicacies, opera is a taste that needs to be acquired with some effort. It takes patience and learning to get to love it, and there are, frankly, many barriers to the complete novice.

For starters, operas are typically very long, and usually sung in their native languages. The art form has a long history, and it’s not easy to know where to start. It can be a very expensive spectator experience because the ticket price covers an orchestra, singers, dancers and actors, but you can and will find cheap tickets if you’re eager.

In some countries, opera is criminally over-subsidised because the elites that govern are also the kind of people that patronise opera houses. In the UK opera gets many more multiples of government funding