The credits roll on a projection screen strategically positioned so that the entire audience, from mezzanine to orchestra pit, will have full view of the stage and the screen. A gentleman in a tuxedo walks on stage and gives a short introduction to the upcoming musical production.
The crowd applauds and the curtains rise. A collective breath sweeps through the crowd. Everyone's as excited as a second-grader on Christmas morning as the orchestra begins to play.
Where is this? What could possibly be going on? It's the opening to Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni" and it's my first experience at the opera.
Amongst the pomp and circumstance and expensive clothes and sets, opera is far more accessible than most people think.
Not black tie
You don't need a dress or tux with a tag that says you've been to Milan or Paris just to go to the opera. Most of the crowd at Logan's Ellen Eccles Theatre wore a casual skirt or slacks. Some patrons even wear jeans and a T-shirt, though most wear nicer clothes, such as a dress, blouse and skirt, or shirt and tie.
Besides choosing appropriate clothes, remember to wear comfortable shoes. You're going to be sitting in that seat for 2 1/2 hours, plus walking around during intermission. As cute as those five- or six-inch heels are, they might not be the most opera-friendly!
Little Miss Manners
Along with the laid-back attitude of the crowd, expectations to be a perfect lady or gentleman are nowhere in sight. Although it is definitely not a good idea to belch in the middle of an aria, it's not absolutely necessary to sit with posture seen at the Royal Wedding. Respect for the performers as well as the other patrons around you may be the best and safest option.
You don't need to speak a foreign language to enjoy the beauty that comes with opera. At the Ellen Eccles Theatre, there's a small projection screen above the stage that runs a translation of the lyrics during the entire duration of the opera.
Besides the different words and syntax, music in a different language is a very different experience from what you hear on the radio. The ebb and flow as well as the different inflections and emphasis in foreign languages can be enchanting and enjoyable.
No studying -- kinda
If you don't mind coming a little early to the theater, there's an oral presentation of a synopsis of the opera. If you're like me, though, and you're dodging into your seat just before the curtain rises and not a stranger to crusty looks from ushers, there's also a synopsis printed in your program.
Although these synopses are enough to guide you and help you understand the plot of the opera, sometimes it's a good idea to do a little light studying before you arrive. Plugging the title of the opera into a search engine and scanning the first couple of links should give you ample knowledge on your chosen performance.
After the opera is finished, the audience is free to leave the theater, but if you want to stick around, the cast of the opera will come out and greet everyone. Contrary to popular belief that opera singers are snotty, well-bred hoity-toity, they're real people who laugh and have fun. They're very friendly and kind, more than willing to talk about what they're doing in the theater as well as how you can get involved, too.
Despite the preconceived notions about opera, it's an accessible and beautiful art form. Like the character Edward explains in the film "Pretty Women," it's beautiful and touches everyone in different ways, on different levels.
Abby Payne is a senior at Bear River High School. When she's not singing, writing or talking a million miles an hour, you can always find her reading. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.