I am as you may have gathered by now something of an opera nut. I saw my first opera at 7 and with a brief interlude when I rebelled I’ve been going ever since.
In the early days when I used to go to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, many of the men wore black tie, and long dresses were in abundance but for good or for bad nowadays at any opera house – unless it’s a gala performance and dress is specified – pretty much anything goes. This is other than at Glyndebourne, where if you don’t dress up you’ll feel really out of place.
This week was Tannhauser (Wagner) at the ROH. Wagner audiences are quite a special breed as they’re delighted to sit through five hours of opera not including intervals. Wagner is a specialist love and the majority of Wagner audiences are addicts. I am a recent convert. With Wagner in particular you have to do your homework properly and listen beforehand. If you’re even thinking of going and you haven’t done this you may well be put off for life. Tannhauser is definitely one of the best to start with.
Anyway, I digress. Most people dress up to some degree, particularly the girls. Who doesn’t like the opportunity to put on a dress and heels? Men tend to wear suits, some even wear jeans. Personally I think it’s a shame not to rise to the occasion and wear something in keeping with the – mostly – gorgeous surroundings. From the ROH to Paris Bastille, the Metropolitan in New York or La Scala in Milan expect to see everything from long dresses to much less formal short dresses and always heels or high boots.
If you’re going to a music festival, such as Glyndebourne, Salzburg, Baden-Baden or Santa Fe expect to be in a crowd that is more glamorously dressed night after night, and bring out your high heels and something long or short but either way much more dressy. That’s part of the fun of a music festival where everyone is just there for the music.
I always wear a dress, short in London or New York, usually long at Glyndebourne. This week it was Michael Michael Kors. Next outing will be Aida in Paris then Glyndebourne. I haven’t worked those out yet.
Notes: Whichever country you’re in, which ever the opera house, wear something comfortable and not too tight particularly if you’re there for the long haul.
Also you can never tell how warm it’s going to be so be prepared with layers. I always take a cashmere cardigan and a wrap so I’m covered for all eventualities.