What to Expect

Your first visit to the opera is one that you’ll never forget. Because it’s a new experience you may be wondering what you should expect, wear, do, and more.

Here is some information that will make your first visit to Opera Theater’s SummerFest a memorable experience that you’ll hopefully want to repeat again and again.

Opera is addicting – so prepare to get hooked!

Choosing Where to Sit

The SummerFest will utilize three different venues. The Kountz Black Box Theater and the Memorial Hall Chapel are both general admission seating.  All of the seats in these smaller venues are great but get there early enough to pick the one you want.

The Richard Rauh Theater at the Hillman Center is our largest venue and features reserved seating with excellent sight lines.  You can select the seats you want when you purchase your tickets.  To get a better idea, take a look at the Seating Chart where you can actually see the stage view from an assortment of seat locations.  For the most intense experience, purchase a ticket in the front row of the orchestra!

Preparing for the Performance

Before arriving at the Hillman Center for SummerFest, you will have the best experience if you do some homework and are familiar with the opera. Our website offers a number of great resources to prepare you for each of the operas this summer. A brief overview of the opera, as well as a synopsis and detailed cast listing, can be found on the page for each production. In addition, visit the Study the Operas page for more detailed background information and links to recordings and resources. Also, plan on arriving early to attend one of our free pre-performance lectures and discussions of the music, themes, and composers featuring our General and Artistic Director, Jonathan Eaton, and members of the artistic and production teams.

What to Wear

In deciding what to wear to SummerFest performances, the answer is easy: Dress up…but only if you feel like it! Some of those in attendance will be dressed in their Sunday best—you may even see a few people in ball gowns and tuxedos. You will also see some dressed much more casually, including those who took advantage of the afternoon activities offered as part of the SummerFest experience.  But, ultimately, it’s up to you.  Wear what makes you feel comfortable and allows you to enjoy all that’s going on around you!

What Time to Arrive

When making the trip to the Hillman Center for Performing Arts in Fox Chapel, be sure to give yourself enough time to deal with any road work along the Route 28 corridor.  Directions to the theater can be found here.  Plan to arrive about 30 minutes prior to the published curtain time.  To improve your experience, arrive a bit earlier and picnic on the lawn or enjoy one of the pre-performance lecture and discussions led by Jonathan Eaton, General and Artistic Director of Opera Theater. 


Remember that Parking is FREE and plentiful right next to the theater.

Purchasing/Picking up your Tickets

It’s best to order and print tickets prior to the day of the performance, but we also welcome those of you who decide to come for a performance at the last minute!  If you need to purchase tickets on the night of a performance, stop by our Box Office at the theater, which opens at 6:00 p.m. for evening performances and 12 noon for Sunday matinees. A member of our Box Office staff will gladly help you find the best seat available for the performance!

During the Performance

As the curtains part, and the artists and sets transport you to an entirely different place, feel free to applaud after a particularly breathtaking aria. If it inspires you, feel free to yell “Bravo!” Where else can you express your emotion to a particular piece so freely? Be sure to silence all cell phones, watches, and anything else that may go “beep” during the performance. What’s truly astonishing about an opera is when the drama has reached the highest point, and there is that one moment of silence in which the audience cannot wait to see what happens next. How unfortunate to have that moment interrupted by a loud ringer or alarm!

There will be one intermission offered at each performance, depending on the length of the opera. This is a great time to stroll around the Hillman Center lobby or step onto the expansive outdoor patio adjacent to the theater and take in the beauty of your surroundings. This is also the time to use the restrooms and stretch your legs.

Opera Theater SummerFest Audience

You may be curious to know who attends an opera performance on a given night. The great thing about our audience is that it is very diverse and constantly growing. You will see people of all ages and backgrounds walking through the doors on the night of a performance. Part of the beauty of opera is that it attracts many different types of people and touches each person differently. Whether you’re coming to take in the gorgeous sets and costumes, the beautiful music, or just to see what opera is all about, you will find someone else who is attending for the same reasons.

What to do post-performance

After the performance has ended, be sure to stick around and take part in the curtain call. Applaud and cheer for your favorite artist, acknowledge the conductor and orchestra, and see the entire cast onstage at the same time.  
After the opera, stay for a drink under the patio tent and meet the singers whose work on stage stole your heart. It’s fun, informal, and everyone is welcome.  For those who want something a little extra, stay out late and have a Night Cap!

We would like to hear about your experience at Opera Theater SummerFest 2012, and are open to suggestions and comments. Feel free to email us at  and we will be in touch with you.

No matter what performance you see, the experience will be something you will never forget. See you at the opera!