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. More than 65 companies have used opera melodies in their television ads, including Pepsi, Ford Motor Company, Pizza Hut and MasterCard. You've likely heard famous arias 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. Parli Italiano? No? Every opera has an English translation projected above the stage. The translations, called supertitles, are easy to read. 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 opera performance includes a summary of the opera's story and other background information that will help you understand the action. If you want a more personal approach, 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 current season 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 Talk immediately following the performance.

For patrons seeking a more in-depth experience, including a Q&A with the artists, make plans to attend the Opera Up Close series.

How long will the opera be?
An opera usually runs 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 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 assure 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. Be prepared that you may have to wait until the end of the first act or the first intermission.

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.

Opera in the Park 2016
July 23, 2016
Romeo & Juliet
Nov. 4 & 6, 2016
Charlie Parker's

Feb. 10 & 12, 2017
The Magic Flute
April 21 & 23, 2017