New to the Opera
The main difference between an opera and a musical–such as Wicked or South Pacific–is that a musical is a drama told through interweaving songs and music with spoken dialogue, while most operas are sung throughout with little or no spoken dialogue. Another difference is the musical style. Musical theatre performers usually use microphones, while opera singers do not.
Check out our Opera 101 page to learn more about opera.
All of our performances – even those in English – are accompanied by supertitles. What’s a supertitle, you ask? Think of the subtitles for a foreign film, but instead of scrolling at the bottom of the silver screen, they’re scrolling across the top of the stage. We perform operas in their original languages because the sound of the poetry is part of the music. But don’t worry, you don’t need to carefully read every single word. Opera composers know that singing can sometimes make words difficult to understand, so they use skillful repetition to make sure we get their point. Sometimes newer patrons are concerned that the captions are malfunctioning when characters are singing but the translation screen is blank. Don’t worry! This almost always means that the characters are repeating what they have already said earlier in a piece. The music is sometimes different in the repetition, but rest assured that you’re not missing any new ideas or plot developments.
That said, the key to enjoying anything is understanding it. Pensacola Opera wants to help with that. Come to our pre-performance talks, visit our Opera 101 page, and learn more about the wide, wonderful world of opera by exploring our website. Also a full synopsis of the opera is provided online for each performance and in the evening’s program.
With single ticket prices starting as low as $25 (up to $115, if you want to splurge), a Pensacola Opera mainstage production costs about what any live concert costs. There’s a price for almost everyone. Want to experience more than one show? Subscription pricing starts at just $38 and will give you access to both mainstage shows.
Prices for all performances are subject to demand pricing and may change (increase and decrease) based on sales. The prices on the website are adjusted in real time and reflect the most current price for each performance.
Each order is subject to a $7 processing fee on the entire order. This covers the set-up, printing, and service fees with Ticketmaster, as well as a facility handling fee. Pensacola Opera may run a special to have your order fees waived. To be notified of these sales, be sure to sign up for our email notifications and follow us on social media!
Student rush tickets are $15 tickets that go on sale two weeks before each performance. You must show your student ID (high school, college, or technical school) to receive student rush pricing and each student ID presented is good for one ticket.
We also offer a military discount. All active duty servicemembers can purchase $15 military appreciation tickets. You must show your military ID, and each ID presented is good for two tickets. All retired and former servicemembers receive a 10% discount on their order.
To be notified of additional discounts, be sure to sign-up for our email notifications and follow us on social media!
Opera isn’t a stuffy occasion. Just wear something you’ll be comfortable sitting in for a while. After all, your main objective is to have a good time. While you might see evening gowns and dinner jackets on opening night, Sunday matinees generally see more casual sport jackets and dresses. A typical night at the opera isn’t a formal event, and there’s never a dress code. Some consider the opera a big night out and like to dress up but just as many come in khakis or jeans. We do suggest that anyone who tends to be cold consider bringing a sweater or jacket, as the theatre can be a bit on the chilly side.
Our mainstage shows are performed at the historic Saenger Theatre. You can find a seating chart here.
Running times vary per opera, but many clock in between 2-3 hours in length, like most Broadway musicals or full-length movies. In opera, all the words are sung and it can take longer for the plot to move ahead than if it were spoken. Because opera is an unamplified art form, many artist’s roles require some vocal “down time,” and just like at a Broadway show, there are set / scenery / costume changes (including wigs and makeup) requiring intermissions. We will always let you know the length of an opera on our website and in the program, as well as number and length of intermission(s). So just expect to be relaxing in those comfy seats for 2 to 3 hours. Unless it is a very short opera, you will get at least one intermission to stretch when you can enjoy beverages (such as coffee or wine) and snacks. You don’t get that at the movies!
Yes. Pensacola Opera typically has two 20-minute intermissions for most three-act operas and a single 20-minute intermission for two-act operas. The number of intermissions and their duration will be listed on the website for each show and in the program.
One way to know when to clap is just to follow the crowd. But there are some consistent clapping opportunities to keep in mind: when the conductor enters the orchestra pit before each act, after a solo aria (song) is finished, after an ensemble has finished singing, at the end of each act, and at curtain calls. Unlike a symphonic performance, you really don’t have to worry about clapping at the wrong time. It’s a compliment to show your passion for the artists’ work on stage. If you’re still not sure, applaud when others applaud if you agree.
Now to the fun part: when to say BRAVO! During bows and applause, you will no doubt hear someone shout “Bravo!” Here is your cheat sheet for when you’re ready to join the action:
Bravo (BRAH voh) – male singer
Brava (BRAH vah) – female singer
Bravi Tutti (BRAH vee TOO tee) – a whole group of singers
Introducing children to the opera will lay a foundation of creativity and art appreciation that will serve them for their entire lives. Bringing children to the opera is entirely up to your preference and knowledge of your child. If they can sit through a feature-length movie, they will probably be ok at the opera. Children will get much more out of going to an opera if you prepare them ahead of time by telling them the story and playing a little of the music. Please teach your children to be respectful audience members. Disruptive or noisy children, along with their accompanying adult, will be asked by an usher to leave the theatre. If you’re unsure whether an opera is family-friendly, just give our box office a call. If you have young children, consider purchasing seats near the aisle, which will allow you the best access to restrooms or the lobby as needed.
Pensacola Opera also has a variety of school-age programs and educational offerings that take place throughout our community. These programs are designed specifically with young audiences in mind and are the perfect way to start exposing children to what will hopefully become a lifelong interest. To learn more about our opera education offerings, read more on in the Learn section of our website or contact our Director of Education.
Don’t open candy or gum wrappers, talk, use your cell phone or pager during the performance. Be sure to turn off your watch alarm and phone when you enter the theatre.
Stay quiet. Opera is unamplified. No Dolby™ Stereo, no THX – Mozart didn’t use electricity to make his music, and neither do we. The voices you hear are created by the singers all by themselves. That’s why they’re so precious. Also, some of the most dramatic moments in opera are the quietest.
Some operas are serious. Some are delightfully ridiculous. Just like a lot of plays and movies, even serious operas can have a character who delivers comic relief, and it’s quite all right to laugh at every great gag. Similarly, it’s okay to cry when the star-crossed lovers are finally united. You’re there to let go and enjoy!
You do not need to have extensive background knowledge about opera to attend a performance. Opera is an extraordinary feast for the eyes and ears, and with English translations projected above the stage, it’s as easy as watching a foreign film. Some people enjoy savoring the experience as a delightful surprise, while others like to carefully prepare and learn all they can before the curtain goes up. There is no right or wrong way.
Our staff is available to answer any additional questions you may have. Our office is located at 75 S. Tarragona Street in downtown Pensacola and is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Central time. You can also call 850.433.6737 during business hours or email us through the Contact page.
Are you normally bored by passion, true love, murder, comedy, and suspense? Opera can really be exciting and the music can sweep you away. Remember, even die-hard opera fans don’t like every opera ever written, so you don’t have to either. To find an opera that’s a good match for you, check out the story in advance.
You’ve heard opera in films, television shows, commercials and throughout pop culture. There’s a reason it’s everywhere. It’s infectious, it’s fulfilling and it brings with it a power no other art form can deliver. If you haven’t already done so, we hope you’ll give opera a try.
If you are interested in trying out opera without committing to a mainstage show just yet, visit our Calendar to find a wide range of performances and informative presentations throughout the community.
Pensacola Opera’s Guild is a volunteer driven organization and has many opportunities for participation. Visit our Guild page for more information.
Theatre and Ticket Info
Our mainstage productions are held at the historic Saenger Theatre in downtown Pensacola. Our smaller showcase productions are held at different venues in the community, including the Pensacola Opera Center, Ashmore Auditorium at Pensacola State College, and the Pensacola Little Theatre. Venue information will always be listed on each production’s page on our website.
Current ticket pricing as of April 25, 2022
For all events at the Saenger Theatre, audio and video recording are prohibited. Patrons will also be subjected to a bag and security search. Prohibited items include:
- Large bags, backpacks, waist packs (size limit 13 5/8” X 15 ¼”)
- Plastic bottles, cans, glass items
- Threatening jewelry or chains
- Weapons of any kind
- Laser pointers
- Illegal drugs or substances
- Parcels or packages or any items where the contents are not displayed
- Selfie sticks/poles
- Outside food or beverage
- Items challenging public safety
For a complete list of Saenger Theatre policies, please visit their website.
We all know how difficult it can be to park downtown, especially if there is a festival going on. Become a subscriber and enjoy complimentary parking in the Baylen/Intendencia Street parking garage. Subscriber names may check with the security guard at the garage entrance. For additional parking, a map of downtown parking can be found here.
Arrive early to ensure all your needs are met. The doors open at 6:00 PM for 7:30 PM performances and at 12:30 PM for 2:00 PM performances. Our performances begin at the advertised start time. We suggest arriving 30 to 60 minutes prior to the start of the performance. Late seating is available at the first appropriate break in the performance; in some cases this means being seated after intermission. In any case, please be mindful of downtown parking and weather conditions as you make your way to the theater. Our pre-show discussions begin one hour before the opera start time in the Orchestra section of the theatre. These are free for anyone with a ticket to get an in-depth, behind the scenes look at the production they are about to see.
There is a Will Call window in the Palafox lobby just inside the glass doors to the Saenger Theatre. Tickets that have not been mailed are held there and you must show a photo ID that matches the name on the tickets. We encouraged those patrons who already have their tickets in hand to enter the theatre through the Intendencia lobby as the line moves quicker.
We cannot reprint tickets. If you lose your ticket, please contact the opera office and we can have the Saenger Theatre issue a ticket voucher that must be picked up at the Will Call window. Each ticket voucher will incur a $5 fee.
Unlike at movies or sports events, you can’t enter or exit an opera auditorium once the performance has begun. We do this to ensure that our audiences can enjoy the performances with minimum distraction during the opera. If you miss the curtain because of traffic, you can take in a live visual feed of the performance on television monitors in the lobby. Latecomers then take their seats at a suitable interval—usually intermission. Latecomers may be seated in alternate seats by the House Manager and then may take their assigned seats at Intermission.
Pensacola Opera season subscribers enjoy generous exchange privileges. Subscription tickets can be exchanged for another performance of the same opera — FREE. Single tickets will be exchanged for a fee of $10.00 per ticket. Please note that tickets for operas that have already occurred cannot be accepted for exchange, or donated back for a tax credit.
Exchanges must be made two weeks before the scheduled performance. They will be made in the same section and price category if possible. If we must exchange your tickets for a higher-priced section, you will be responsible for the difference; if the exchange is made to a lower-priced section, you will receive a receipt for the balance, which may be claimed as a tax-deductible donation.
There are two ways to exchange tickets: in person or by calling the opera office. Exchanges cannot be completed until the original tickets have been returned and all fees, if applicable, have been paid. Please have your tickets in hand in order to exchange by phone.
Please don’t let your tickets go to waste- if you can’t attend at the last minute, consider donating your tickets back to Pensacola Opera for resale, while you enjoy a tax-deduction for your generosity. You will receive a written acknowledgement for tax purposes. Please note that tickets for operas that have already occurred cannot be donated back for a tax credit. Tickets must be received at the opera office by mail or in person and may be donated until the Thursday before the performance. We do not offer refunds.
No one wants to hear a rumbling stomach in the theatre! Join us for an opening night prix fixe meal at V Paul’s Italian Ristorante or our Sunday Director’s Champagne Brunch at Jackson’s Steakhouse.
The prix fixe meal starts at 5:00 PM with a short presentation from Maestro Jerome Shannon. Price is $35 per person plus tax and tip, excluding alcohol. To reserve your table, call 850.466.5855 and mention “Opera Dinner”.
Our signature Champagne Brunch also includes a presentation from Maestro Jerome Shannon and begins at 11:45 AM. Price is $50 and this event usually sells out quickly. Reserve your tickets today!
A list of our other dining partners can be found on our Venues page.
Concessions are on sale before the performance and during intermission. These include light snacks, wine, beer, and Coca-Cola products. Please be mindful while enjoying your refreshments in the theatre and unwrap any items before the performance begins.
Pensacola Opera is proud to serve the community through a limited number of ticket donations to worthy charitable organizations each season. Tickets are issued on a first come, first served basis while supplies last. Interested groups can fill out our Donation Request Form and will be contacted by our Patron Services Manager.
Are you an inquiring mind? Do you enjoy learning about the nuts and bolts of opera? If you’re new to the opera or just need a little refresher, we’ve put together a selection of operatic facts to help improve your enjoyment and understanding of our performances.