Seeing an Opera House is practically standard tourist repertoire nowadays. Since there are so many beautiful ones around the world, they regularly make it onto 'The Top Ten Things to See in…(insert city of your choice here)." However, not as many tourists are actually willing to brave the short walk into the house let alone actually see an Opera in there. The situation usually starts and ends with the tourist in question taking a few photos outside, ticking it off their list and moving on.
As a massive culture nerd/music fan/opera geek, this is just not the way I work. In my childhood (and beyond), I was obsessed with castles. So obsessed, that everytime I saw one, I just had to go and explore it, despite the outcries from many relatives (not naming any names) who were of the opinion that 'once you'd seen one castle, you'd seen them all!' Today, at the grand old age of 22, it's the same thing. Visiting the Opera House and seeing an Opera inside is part of experiencing the culture of that city. For me, standing outside and taking photos is not experiencing the Opera House or the Opera culture. It is simply just scratching the surface.
Now, I am aware that Opera is not the most popular of pastimes. It is often viewed as "Upper Class", "Elitist" and particularly hard to like if you don't have a background in music. The boyfriend is a classic example of this. He was not best pleased when I dragged him to see "Aida" in Prague. However, once he was in there enjoying the amazing architecture in Prague State Opera House, witnessing tremendous vocal skills from the artists and having a champagne on the balcony whilst watching the sun set over Prague, he soon warmed to it. Admittedly he warmed more to the culture and the atmosphere rather than the opera itself. However, this is significant progress for a man who would rather listen to Eminem than anything that has anything to do with "classical" music.
A lot of people are also under the impression that going to the Opera is very expensive. Now, yes you can pay a lot of money for Opera tickets, especially in London's Covent Garden. I am currently mourning the fact that the legendary production of 'Don Jiovanni' playing at Covent Garden is a tad out of my league (the remaining tickets cost a pricey £191!) However, if you swap Opera Houses to the English National Opera in London, then you can get tickets for as low as £12 in advance and £5 on the day for the same high standard of Opera! If you move further into Europe, tickets get cheaper. Good seats in Prague were £50 for two people whilst the best seats in Riga cost me a mere €42. If you're willing to risk it on the day (anyone willing to come and join me in the queue for Don Jiovanni??) then you can get the best prices. Visiting the Opera whilst on a budget is possible!
If you've never seen an Opera before, then I would highly recommend it, even just to experience the culture. If you don't like "Classical" music then yes, you probably won't like it. However, go in there and see. Try something new. Experience the culture. Have an adventure! Isn't that what travelling and living is all about, getting out of your comfort zone?!
For people who have been incredibly inspired by my rant and have decided to book a visit to the Opera then I'd recommend that you start with "Carmen". It's a very safe choice for beginners and most people will know tunes from it. Do not however, book Wagner's Ring Cycle. Babysteps my friends, babysteps.