Opera guide

A last-minute trip to the opera

A visit to the opera must be planned well in advance? Admission is only possible in the finest dinner outfit? And nothing works without a degree in music? Far from it! The best tips for beginners and spontaneous visitors.

What should I wear?

Opera is high culture but audiences in Munich take a somewhat more relaxed approach to it. Naysayers may claim that in Munich you can go to the opera in the same clothes you wear to Oktoberfest. This may be based on the fact that some visitors have been known to go to the opera in formal black Dirndls. In any case, there is no strict dress code; while older opera fans may like to wear a suit or long evening dress, others wear blouses and casual shirts. Even jeans have been seen in the opera and are flat out ignored with typical Bavarian aplomb.


Where are the best seats?

In terms of a combination of view and acoustics, the best seats are on the balcony: Front row, seats 1, 2 and 3. The other seats on the front row of the balcony are pretty good, too. Otherwise, the opera works in the same way as a cinema. That means: ideally, you should sit relatively close to the middle, though the stalls are better than the sides of the balcony, circle and gallery – from the stalls you can actually see the surtitles with the translations of the lyrics. Further forwards tends to be better than at the back as it is easier to follow what is going on on stage. As far as the acoustic is concerned, the motto is: the higher the better.

How do I get tickets at short notice?

The evening box office at the entrance opens one hour before the start of the performance. If you aren’t keen on the bargain tickets, try asking around in front of the opera house; you’ll almost always find ticket sellers here. It’s not a black market, mind you; ticket selling in front of the opera is quite legal. For instance, you’ll often find hotel bellboys selling tickets that guests haven’t purchased. Because the hotels are happy to get the tickets off their hands at short notice, they are often even cheaper than buying them normally. Tickets are also often on offer in the opera’s online forum – checking online can therefore sometimes pay off.

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What exactly are standing and listening only tickets?

The standing areas are located on the second and third circle, the listening only seats are located directly above in the gallery. As the name suggests, in the listening only seats, you can only hear what is going on down on the stage. Sometimes you can reserve these spaces for just a few euro. However, some performances can last up to five hours. If you are standing, we therefore recommend wearing flat and comfortable shoes. If you leave €50 at the cloakroom as a deposit, you can rent a pair of opera glasses and significantly improve your view from the more affordable seats.

Which are the easiest operas to understand without a degree in music?

There are a few: like Mozart’s The Magic Flute, for example, a true classic. Or “Carmen”, though for this opera we recommend getting a seat where you can the surtitles for the translation. At Christmas, Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” is an opera that is also child-friendly. Anyone who happens to be in the city during the Opernfestspiele (Opera Festival) should make sure they stop by. Thanks to its broad selection of events, it is ideal, particularly for those new to opera. The "Opera for All" event, which is free of charge, offers a very special atmosphere: sitting on picnic blankets, visitors enjoy the open-air opera broadcast in front of the Opera House. For those looking for something new and unusual in summer, don't miss the Festival Studio: a modern, contemporary music theatre which is presented in special locations in Munich.




Text: Margot Weber; Photos: Wilfried Hösl, Felix Löchner, Werner Böhm


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