Seven Secrets for Compfy Classical Concerts

Opus Osm

Sticking around during intermission, a few audience members ask Bruno Perrault about the rare Ondes Martenot at an FOK concert last January.

Seven Secrets for a More Comfortable Classical Concert

‘Classical’ Doesn’t Have to Mean ‘Uncomfortable’

This fall, Opus Osm begins its third year of interviewing and writing about classical music, opera, and ballet. So far, our writers and photographers have attended hundreds of performances, interviews, and press conferences, often several a week (and sometimes even more than one a day).

Over the course of all those performances, we’ve learned a few things about how to make ourselves more comfortable at a concert or dance performance. The good news? These days, “classical” doesn’t mean “uncomfortable.”

So here are our Seven Secrets to enjoying a more comfortable classical concert (or other performance):

1. Get your hands on the season brochure. The major orchestras and ballet companies offer them for free in their lobbies and at their box offices. (Smaller companies update information on their websites about nearest performances.) You can check the performances planned for the whole year (Oct-June), of course. But just as interesting, you can see which compositions will be performed, and look forward to an old favorite or expand your repertoire with something new and unfamiliar. Tip: Go to performances of the same piece by different performers.

2. Consider buying season tickets. Not only will you save a bundle, you’ll start to recognize familiar faces of fans seated nearby. It’s a nice way to meet some nice people, and you help support the arts at the same time. Tip: The more you go, the more you’ll enjoy going.

3 Think outside the box seats. Going to the theatre for ballet, opera, or a concert doesn’t mean high prices and late nights. Did you know you can buy tickets at 20, 30, even 40 percent discounts? And some orchestras offer public rehearsal tickets for as little as 100 kč. Tip: The occasional dance performances at The Piazzeta are free.

The Czech Philharmonic, FOK, and other ensembles offer some concerts at lunchtime, on Saturday mornings, and in the very early evening, for people who don’t want to be out late on a school night. And almost every arts organization offers at least one production for children and families.

4 Dress in layers. For all but the big New Year’s Eve or Gala concerts, everyday attire is fine – anything except ripped jeans, shorts, or t-shirts. These days, most churches hosting concerts are heated in winter and cool in summer, but still, it can get chilly or stuffy in any venue. Dressing in layers lets you adapt as the performance continues. Tip: Check your coat. Some of the best concert “reviewing” occurs while you chat with others in line.

5 Pack a bag. In your purse or small briefcase: cough drops; a small resealable bottle of water to combat the dry air; and small change, for the evening’s program, an optional tip for the cloak room ladies, or a glass of wine at intermission. Tip: Buying the program (usually less than 50 kč) always boosts your appreciation for what you’re about to see.

6 Try airplane aerobics. Sitting for a performance isn’t as grueling as for a transatlantic flight, but the seats can be nearly as uncomfortable after an hour or so. Discreetly rotate your feet and stretch your neck occasionally (in time to the music). If you don’t go out during the intermission, stand near your seat and rise up and down on your toes. You’ll feel much fresher for the second half of the show. Tip: Stay in the concert hall during intermission, and you might see something verrry interesting.

7 Talk it up. Tell a friend about the performance you’ve just seen. Describing it helps you re-live it, and often, you’ll discover impressions you didn’t realize you had. And you might discover your friends would like to go with you next time. Tip: Put your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, or Opus Osm. It’s a nice way to help build support for Czech culture. — oo

– Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička

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