Thursday, 29th September sees the start of the 2022-23 Opera North Season with a staging of La traviata at Leeds Grand Theatre. I have taken my posh frock to the cleaners in anticipation.

This is the first of six operas being staged between now and next March with a mixture of classic and less well known works. I don’t normally do trailers but I felt that I ought to share this with you.

Since I began writing about opera a few years ago, I have come to love it, even though I am still learning – I get the feeling that you never stop doing that – and so I write for the benefit of the newbies like myself or those who have never been but are thinking about giving it a whirl. My message here is, think no more.

When browsing their website the other day I came across an initiative called Try It ON. ON – Opera North, geddit? It may surprise you to know that tickets can be bought for as little as £15 which is a snip, but they tend to be ‘in the gods’ which is fine as the sound and vision is as good there as anywhere, you are just further away from the action.

Try It ON, however, is aimed at the first-timer and enables them to get a stalls seat – or two – with those who, as John Lennon famously put it, don’t clap just rattle their jewellery, for £20 each. It only applies to your first visit but what an introduction. Having said that, I was surprised that opera is not as elitist as you would think. I scrub up for the evening and I have seen a lady in one of the boxes a couple of times who looks as though she is going on to a ball after the show but most of the audience are in the proverbial ‘smart casual’.

The website tells you everything you need to know about the music, dress code, when to applaud etc, so makes you feel comfortable from the minute you book your ticket. They will even send you special pre-show emails, behind the scenes exclusives and you will get a free tote bag with a few treats inside. It will also entitle you to exclusive offers after the show.

The people at Opera North are brilliant and have coached me through the process so should have no trouble with anyone else. They do, however, say that mobiles should be switched to silent and put away. I was sad to see how many ‘jewellery rattlers’ don’t do this. Opera, like any form of theatre, is performed by real people standing in front of you and incandescent glows coming from a dark auditorium must be off-putting, the light from the screen will also identify you. Might I suggest, therefore, that you turn them off completely, there is usually, at least one interval when you can catch up – there are two during La traviata. I always think that it is pretty cool when people don’t instantly reply to texts or emails as it sends a message that you live life to your own timetable rather than everyone else’s, but consider this. If you want to ramp up your cool rating, why not go into your phone settings and on Respond With Text put something like ‘I am currently at the opera and will get back to you after the encore!’ You’re welcome.

Now that I have discovered this scheme I intend to add a note to my reviews saying whether I think that what I have seen is suitable for opera virgins, as I would hate for you to go to something really obscure and be put off for good. Having said that, there have only been a couple which I would not have recommended to the novice, and one of those was because it was over five hours long. Not gently wading in from the shallow end, that one!

Anyway, should you be wavering please go to where you will be taken through the process, and click on the link to Try It ON for your tickets. In fact, click on all the links they are really interesting and have snippets of the shows. Try before you buy!

See you there, if my dry cleaning comes back in time!

Feature image from Opera North

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