The introvert's dream: going solo at the opera

The introvert's dream: going solo at the opera

Jenna Simeonov

If you’re like me, and you enjoy spending time on your own, you’ll understand this dilemma: do you take yourself out on a date for one - to the movies, or to a nice dinner, a place where you’re unlikely to have the social safety blanket of a laptop or book, or do you bring a friend on your outing, so as not to appear so utterly, suspiciously, publicly alone?

It’s a silly thing, but even the most hardcore of introverts struggle with the idea that while they sit happily alone at a table or in a movie theatre, the people around them will notice and think they’re a weird loner.

But going to the opera, all on one’s own, is totally fabulous.

Unlike going to a restaurant, which essentially leaves a large, empty container of time that’s traditionally meant for groups to converse and try each other’s food, a night at the opera is beautifully structured for a solo ticket holder. (Frankly, this structure is actually what makes going to the opera an awesome idea for a first date, but that’s another story.)

It’s all compartmentalized into digestible chunks of time: Arrival, pre-show activities, show, intermission, show, exit. You can show up as early or late as you want, with no compromise for the sake of anyone else’s plans. Coat check, restroom visit, bar visit, pre-show chat, an #imattheopera selfie; the world - or the lobby - is your oyster. And most opera houses are prime environments for people-watching, my personal favourite pre-show activity.

Or, you can make a beeline right to your seat, where you can peruse the in-house program and get some uninterrupted time to read about the show.

At intermission, the lone opera-goer gets a short reprise of the pre-show plan. Restroom, bar, people-watching, program-reading, in any order you like. And when it’s time to leave, it’s pretty satisfying to be a singular person, weaving your way through the crowds on your way out the door.

Even the show itself is different when you see it alone. I always love most the moment when the house lights dim to signal the show’s imminent start; it’s a bit like the show is happening just for me. Maybe it’s coincidence, but some of the most powerful moments I’ve experienced as an opera audience member have been when I’ve gone by myself. There’s a freedom in sitting alone in the dark, anonymous among the crowd, greedily soaking up all that opera has to offer. Without an opera date, and the subconscious urge to mirror their body language, I can sigh, applaud, laugh, and weep at my own pace.

I say all this, I suppose, to embolden you to take yourself to the opera. Maybe you’re curious about it, but can’t easily find anyone willing to go with you; or maybe you’re more interested in finding a decent date-night activity for yourself. Maybe you’ve not considered going to the opera, nor going out by yourself - but if you even remotely enjoy your own company, I can at least offer you a hearty recommendation.

Some tips: many opera companies offer discounts for young(ish) folks, and some offer rush tickets if you’re willing to wait for same-day booking. And there are gems to be found beyond the city’s biggest operatic offerings; it’s the age of the scrappy, black-box, small-but-mighty opera company, and with a bit of digging (and help from the likes of us), you can find some operatic thrills that are low-key and potentially easier on your wallet.

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