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Proper Attire for Opera

We will be going to the opera in Vienna and wanted to know what the proper attire is required. We try to travel light because we are staying in 4 different cities while in Europe and go by train. Do the men have to wear a jacket and tie? Thank you for any advice.

Posted by
15566 posts

No, but you dress as nice as you can, out of respect for the other patrons. It wouldn't hurt to pack a wrinkle resistant sport jacket. But there will not be a "bouncer" inspecting your attire behind a velvet rope. Its an opera house, not a disco. I'm sure there will be a few young people adopting the "impoverished music lover" look. See if you can fit in with them.

Posted by
10707 posts

Sam, generally the question sets me off because replies like this pop up:, "i showed up in flip flops, a t-shirt and shorts and I survived it just fine" Geeeee, its not about you, its about the others there, you selfish &^%$# !! No, not you Sam. I sort of disagree with you but you showed class by acknowledging the other patrons. Thank you. I gave up arguing this because someone else always knows better, so I suggest that people Google photos of the opera house they are going to and look at the patrons in the photos and then make their own decisions.

My personal opinion for all its worth: I have been to performances in Moscow, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, San Francisco and D.C. and I wouldn't dream of going without a sports coat at a minimum. I travel light too. In the warmer months with nothing but carryon, but Sam as you suggest a good wrinkle resistant sports coat works well. Its also a heck of a lot more useful than one of those khaki travel vests for carrying tickets, wallet (in a zippered pocket), cell phone, etc both in country and when traveling on the plane.

I go to a lot of performances in Budapest and Budapest is a little different in that the performances are primarily for local consumption and not so much about the tourist trade. I enjoy them more for just that reason, but for just that reason dress is a little more important. We see pensioners wearing their finest suits and furs purchased in 1967 and showing their age, but its the best these folks have sometimes and they are proud of their big night out. I am not going to ruin it by denigrating the experience for them. Among the younger most have a sports coat and among those in between dark suites are pretty common. But that's just Budapest. Again, go look at the photos on Google.

Posted by
463 posts

Thanks James for saying it loud. As an old orchestra conductor once told me, in good old times it would have been unthinkable to leave for a foreign land without a jacket and a tie. You never know where you are going to end and what you will attend.

Posted by
1533 posts

Bonnie,
My friend and I have tickets for Rigoletto at the Opera House in Vienna at the end of June. We are going on the RS Berlin Prague Vienna trip beginning in 4 days. We thought what better way to cap off our trip than to go to the storied Vienna Opera? We are both trying to pack light...but I will wear a long skirt with a nice top and jacket. These are separates which can be dressed up or down. I want to fit in and enjoy the experience without worrying about my appearance. I agree with respecting the culture we are visiting and what James has written.
Have fun!
Judy B
Atlanta

Posted by
2924 posts

James , as always , elucidates this best . As a retired orchestral musician ( a bassoonist ) , with more than thirty years performing in Broadway theatre pits and free lance opera and classical venues , and now as an appreciative audience member , I am keenly aware of people who attend performances " underdressed " . When I attend a performance , proper attire is , for me , and the reasons James stated , a must . A jacket , tie , and dress slacks for this Friday's performance at American Ballet Theater !

Posted by
10707 posts

Steven, long time. Hope all is well.

Okay, when Steven supports me you have to sort of ignore it. I think of him as a good friend and I doubt he would do anything less than back me up.

Here is the RS enigma. Rick says soak up the culture, but rick was filmed in the Opera House in hiking boots and a sink washed plaid shirt (if memory serves me correctly).

Steven, correct me, but isn't there a lot more latitude at an afternoon performance? Personally never been to one but always assumed as much.

Men are easy; coat and tie. Women, wellllllll............ Not going to touch that subject. Look like you match the man you are with I guess.

Steven, when you are ready to return I found some real interesting music venues.

Posted by
5450 posts

http://altnyc.org/deconstructing-the-myth-operas-depopularization/

Within this operating mode is another troubling assumption. The delineation between mass culture and high art did not always exist, despite what many people have come to believe. “For more than a century, the elite in the United States had distinguished themselves from consumers of commercial culture, or mass culture. Highbrow/lowbrow was the language by which culture was translated into status – the pivot on which distinctions of taste became distinctions of caste. The words highbrow and lowbrow are American inventions, devised for a specifically American purpose: to render culture into class.“

Polka at the beer garden for those of us without tails.

Posted by
10707 posts

Edgar, I absolutely agree. We should immediately and without consideration impose the values of the American Lyric Society on the cultures of the world! How dare they be different!! How dare they attempt to do anything beyond the average collective cultural norm! Forbid!!!! Workers of the world unite!!!!!! From those with ability to those with need!! Rise up!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by
2924 posts

James , you don't need any correcting . Matinee performances are , indeed , a different story . A park concert , for instance , would be fine with very casual attire . This all varies based on where . when , what type of program , etc. is at hand . One example ( specific to the situation ) would be the Vienna New Years Concert . There are several performances , and during the sfternoon ones , the orchestra ( while still in coat and tie ) is dressed appropriate to the afternoon , as opposed to white tie for evening performances . Outdoors ( the big screens in Vienna , or opening weekend at The Hungarian State Opera , Andrassy was filled with throngs of casually dressed people enjoying it all . On Sunday evening ( after our lovely afternoon together ) , The performance in the opera hose was peopled with an audience appropriately attired . We had the experience that you often speak of - an elderly couple , seated in front of us at " Giselle " ,and dressed to the nines in tasteful and dated attire . We had a lovely conversation with them , and it is something that remains with us . Our best to you and Paty , we think of you often !

Posted by
463 posts

Well, I am an opera worker as well, and I do appreciate patrons who take the time and pain to dress up a bit. Actually, audiences in Vienna are among the most dressed up in the world and if you board a tram on the ring line in late afternoon it is not impossible to see ladies and gentlemen dressed in their best going to the opera. - Another hint: you can find ladies' cocktail dresses in almost any clothes store in the German language area, as people loves to dress up when attending events. My wife was looking at home (Italy) for a long black concert dress and she was not able to find any; we had a look to a clothes store in Bad Reichenhall, Germany (a small and very subdued town) - and she found two good for her in the same store.

Actually, only half of the show is on the stage; and sometimes it is not even the better half as the public is more entertaing than the show.

Posted by
10707 posts

You might notice that I was a little gunshy about my response. Read this and understand why: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/austria/vienna-opera-house

Sure is a different group here this time.

Steven, glad you enjoyed the performances and very happy you enjoyed the company at coffee. The two of you are a class act.

We were back in Budapest for Christmas last year and I got tickets for the New Year's gala at the Opera House. Being winter we travel a little heavier anyway so she packed a gown and me "black tie". Then a few days prior Paty came down with an ailment and by New Years Eve she was up in Buda under a surgeons knife. Incredibly good medical care from some of the most caring physicians I have ever met. All came out well and actually it became sort of a trial run for permanent residency. But alas, no gala.

When you come back we found a new live performance jazz venue I think you will like.

Best.

Oh, Edgar, my apologies for getting a little worked up. G-d bless you and defend your opinion.

Posted by
85 posts

Thanks for all the comments. I think we will be dressing up for the opera! It will a special night. Thank you again!

Bonnie

Posted by
10707 posts

Since you are toting the good clothes you ought to make a quick side trip to Budapest for a show as well.