Far from being an unusual topic, the way you dress up at the opera can be a real headache for those who go there for the very first time, but also for music lover who does not necessarily know what to wear in opera houses abroad. Let’s say it, there is no real rule!
Let’s take two main examples: the Opera in Paris and Milan Teatro alla Scala dress codes, two fashion capitals …
In Paris, it was fashionable to dress in evening dress or suits or even sometimes, a tuxedo. A revolution having passed by, the seventies saw the emergence of an art that wanted to be popular. This democratization of culture could not leave the opera aside, which has always suffered from its elitist reputation. Rolf Liebermann, (grand director from 1973 to 1980) is credited with having declared that “sneaker jeans” were accepted in the Palais Garnier. Since then, there is no real dress code at the Paris opera house.
In Milan, it is believed, elegant outfits are requested. This is not entirely false but it is not exact either. The spectators will certainly be disappointed in noting that beautiful dresses are not always there. As in all the big international venues, the aficionados do not necessarily make a lot of efforts and come most of the time, in standard suits, like going to the cinema.
The contrast will be striking because, beautiful Italian and some frisky tourists enjoy an exceptional outing to put on their best clothes.
Milan joins Paris in this because in the French capital, you can also see Japanese in traditional kimono. There are also some gala evenings where it is better to be very well dressed !
Let say that the dress code for Teatro alla Scala is elegant and for the opera in Paris : smart casual!
But some capitals of classical music where the elegant dress code is more appropriate such as in Vienna or Prague where a slightly older clientele perpetuates a tradition that has become obsolete elsewhere.
But, what is the opera dress code ?
There will always be better dressed spectators than others…. The key is to feel good, it is better to aim for the in-between, the casual chic in Paris or the elegant chic in Milan, avoiding mistakes.
The opera is experienced by some as a unique show where it is appropriate, as a respect to the orchestra and the singers, to show oneself at its best.
On the other hand, you can attend concerts, opera or ballet events as you go to the cinema, nobody will find any mistake … It should respect both lenses.
However, a spectator in shorts and flip flops can be noticed in the gold and velvet operas and should be avoided. In tuxedo, a music lover will also attract looks, perhaps more friendly.
In summary, if you want to dress to attend a performance of La Traviata, do it! If you prefer to come as you are, do not be shy! The essential thing is always what happens on stage and not in the room !
A dress code list :
Aix en Provence Festival dress code : chic
Budapest opera house dress code : casual
Paris Opera house dress code : smart casual
Milan, La Scala Opera House dress code: chic
Prague Opera house dress code : casual
Venice, Teatro la Fenice dress code : chic
Verona arena opera dress code : smart casual, avoid summer short and flip flop