Frequently Asked Questions

What is opera?
Opera is the ultimate interdisciplinary art form, incorporating music, theatre, graphic design, and multi-media arts. Like today's best movies, opera tells stories with timeless themes and primal emotions: love, hate, jealousy, faith, despair, betrayal, loyalty. There are family feuds, coups, unrequited love, murder, intrigue, slapstick comedy, mistaken identity, and hot-headed actions that have tragic consequences, all set to some of the most sublime music you'll ever hear and backed by fantastic costumes and sets. You may even recognize some of the tunes, as many companies use them in television commercials, and they also appear in movies such as The Fifth Element, Fantasia, Atonement, The Godfather, and The Shawshank Redemption

How will I understand what's happening on stage?
The days of attending opera and not understanding what's happening onstage are gone. Every opera has English translations, called supertitles, projected above the stage. No matter what language the performers are singing, you will not be lost - unless you count being lost in the music.

The playbill you receive at the performance includes a plot synopsis and background information on the performers.  If you want more background, plan to attend the free 30 minute Pre-Opera Talk given at the Overture Center one hour before curtain time, or click on specific production pages for detailed information about Madison Opera's productions.

What should I wear?
Come in clothes that will make you comfortable. Some dress in casual clothes, others prepare for an elegant night out. Either is acceptable.

Is there a pre-opera lecture?
Yes. Prior to each performance, join General Director Kathryn Smith for insights into Madison Opera's current production. The 30-minute Pre-Opera Talk generally takes place one hour before curtain in the Wisconsin Studio, 3rd floor Overture Center. Madison Opera also offers a Post-Opera Q&A immediately following the performance.

For patrons seeking even more background, including a Q&A with the artists, make plans to attend the Opera Up Close series the week before the opera.  Those new to the art form will also enjoy Opera Novice, held about one month before the production.

How long will the opera be?
An opera usually runs 2-1/2 to 3 hours, including intermission(s). Specific run times are available for each opera of the season. Visit the individual production pages for run-time information.

When should I arrive? What if I'm late?
We encourage you to arrive downtown 30-45 minutes prior to the scheduled performance time to be sure that you have enough time to park, walk to the Overture Center, and be seated. If you arrive after the performance has started, you will be asked to wait in the lobby until a suitable break in the opera. This varies depending upon the opera; in some cases, you may have to wait until the first intermission to be seated.

Where can I park for the Overture Center?
Many parking facilities are located within a couple blocks from the Overture Center. Click here for parking information.

Are refreshments available at the Overture Center?
Yes. Beverage service is available before and after the performance and during intermission(s). Bars are located in the Overture Lobby and the Promenade level.

What services are available for patrons with special needs?
Overture Hall has many services available. Please click here for more information.

La Bohème
Nov. 13 & 15, 2015
Feb. 5 & 7, 2016
April 15 & 17, 2016