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. Not sure what to expect? Hear from last year’s First Timers.

Booking your tickets
About the opera
Attending the opera

Booking your tickets

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 [email protected] (we’re open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm). We’d be delighted to help in any way we can.

London Coliseum Seating Plan

Isn’t seeing the opera expensive?

We believe opera should be accessible to all, so our opera tickets start from £10 plus £3.25 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 21-34 year olds can book discounted opera tickets and Under 21s where 5-20 year olds can claim free opera tickets.

Take a look at our ways to save on opera ticket prices

Under 21s

Under 21s

Get free opera tickets to see all ENO performances at the London Coliseum.

Learn more

Under 35s

Under 35s

Discounted opera tickets at affordable prices for you and a friend

Learn more

Multi-buy Packages

Multi-buy Packages

Choose to see more than one opera and save money on seats.

Find out more

About the opera

Will I understand what is being sung?

Yes. Most English National Opera performances are sung in English, with the sung text projected above the stage (surtitles). (There are some seats in the London Coliseum where the view of the surtitles is restricted so if this is your first time we don’t recommend these seats.)

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.

Watch some of our best-loved opera songs (arias)

Do I need to read up on the operas 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!

Listen to our favourite opera classics on Spotify

Attending the opera

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. We don’t have a cloakroom so please leave your luggage at home.

Is there an operatic 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.

Can I take photos?

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.

Hear from our new opera goers...

“This was my first ever opera. I was absolutely blown away and will be going to see Carmen in February. We enjoyed the whole evening and liked the fact the ENO was welcoming and informal. Thank you for a wonderful experience.”
– October 2022

 

“Really loved the sets and lighting, felt very immersed in the story despite it being our first opera. The performance was very inclusive being translated and also having subtitles above so that all the audience could follow. Would definitely recommend to a friend.”
– October 2022

 

“We didn’t 100% know what to expect, and were blown away – the whole experience was lovely! It was a wonderful performance, easy to follow and the quality of the orchestra, singers, background, and setting overall was exceptional. We will be coming back!”
– October 2022

 

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. If you have any further questions, contact our Box Office team at [email protected].