Attending opera for the first time?

What to expect

We want you to have a truly brilliant experience at the opera. English National Opera exists for everyone, creating new experiences with opera that inspires, nurtures creativity and makes a difference.

To make your visit as enjoyable and stress-free as possible we’ve pulled together some of the questions people most frequently ask about attending opera for the first time.

Is there a dress code?

There is no set dress code at ENO. Many people dress up for our opening nights, and unless stated for an event, such as Gala performances and award ceremonies, when it is often black-tie, you can wear what you like.

Smart casual to high end couture, it’s your night and we want you to have a great time – all we ask is that if you have large headwear that you remove it for the performance. If it’s cold outside it’s a good idea to leave your coat and any large bags in the free cloakroom for your comfort in the auditorium.

Will I understand what is being sung?

Yes. All English National Opera performances are sung in English, with the sung text projected above the stage (surtitles).

Where the opera was written in another language, we translate it into English. We believe that singing in English enhances the emotional connection between performers and audiences.

Head to our YouTube channel to watch some of our best-loved opera songs (arias)

Do I need to read up about the opera before I attend?

You can certainly do some homework using our plot outlines and guides to each opera but it’s not essential. Our guides will give you a short overview of the opera, the composer and the music. Just watch out for spoilers!

It can also be helpful to watch our production trailers before hand, to get a taste of what you can expect!

Isn’t seeing the opera expensive?

We believe opera should be accessible to all, so our tickets start from £10 plus £2.25 booking fee. No, really.

To see an ENO opera for a fraction of the price, you can take advantage of one of our many schemes such as Under 35s, where 5-20 year olds can claim free tickets, and 21-34 year olds can book tickets at a reduced rate.

Take a look at our ways to save on ticket prices

Is there an opera etiquette I need to follow?

There are no set rules about how and when you should show your enthusiasm for the performance, though most people wait until the end of a beautiful solo or duet, or a pause in the action, before clapping.

Our productions aim to be different – more theatrical, more movement, more choreography, and it’s great when audiences love that as much as we do.

Like all other theatres we ask that you do not use your mobile phone to photograph or record the performance though we positively encourage photography beforehand, in the auditorium, the foyers, bars – everywhere. Just remember to tag us on your wonderful photos so we can share your evening.

Where should I sit for my first opera?

The theatre is designed to give a clear view of the stage from every seat. It’s an architectural and engineering masterpiece, as you’ll see. However, please check our seating plan for any restricted legroom or restricted view of the surtitles.

If you would like some friendly and helpful advice then please feel free to contact our friendly Box Office team on box.office@eno.org (we’re open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm). We’d be delighted to help in any way we can.

We hope that we have answered the questions you may have and we can’t wait to welcome you to English National Opera and our wonderful home, the London Coliseum.