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FAQs & Box Office Information

Contact the Box Office 

Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 

Call Us: (314) 961-0644 

Email Us: boxoffice@opera-stl.org 

Download our App: bit.ly/otslapp  

Welcome to Opera Theatre — we’re excited you’re here! We cannot wait to welcome you back to our theater and to another festival season. 

At this time, in-person window sales with our box office staff are by appointment only. Please call us or email us to arrange an appointment with our staff.

Explore the 2023 Festival Season

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Frequently Asked Questions

Health & Safety

What are your vaccine policies?

We are tracking COVID-19 rates and in accordance with CDC and local guidelines, do not currently require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for our guests and patrons. OTSL staff and company members are required to be fully vaccinated.  

For more information about our vaccination and safety policies, please click here.


Do I need to bring a mask?

The choice is yours — we respect your decision on whether or not to wear a mask at our events. If you forget a mask but would like one, a complimentary mask will be provided to you upon your arrival. 


Paperless Ticketing

How do I request either paper or digital tickets?

If you are purchasing online, you may choose your preferred ticket delivery method at check-out. To select hard copy tickets delivered by post or held at Will Call, please choose “Mail” or “Will Call” at check-out. To receive mobile tickets with scannable QR codes, please choose “Mobile” ticket delivery. To receive PDF tickets that you can print at home and bring with you to the theater, please choose “Print at Home” ticket delivery. Regardless of whatever delivery method you select, all of your purchased tickets for the season will also be available for easy access through our smartphone app. 

Download our app


What if I lose the email with my digital tickets?

We recommend you save your receipt to an easy location on your phone, such as a personal Dropbox or Google Drive account. We also recommend downloading our smartphone app! Once you’ve signed in with the same username and password that you used to buy your tickets online, all of your previous ticket purchases will show up under your account profile. However, even in the case that you don’t have our app and can’t find your original email receipt, we will be happy to re-send your ticket email to you. Simply contact our Box Office at (314) 961-0644 or boxoffice@opera-stl.org. 

Download our app


Planning Your Visit

How early should I plan to arrive?

Evening performances start at 7:30 p.m. and matinee performances start at 12:30 p.m. Even if you aren’t able to come and picnic before the show, we recommend arriving at least 30 minutes before the start of the opera in order to park and find your seats before the show begins. While we do offer closed-circuit coverage of the performances via television monitors in the lobby, late arrivals will not be seated until an appropriate break in the music. We do this to ensure that our audiences can enjoy the performances with a minimum of distraction.


Is there a dress code to attend the opera?

Leave your ermines and furs at home! After all, St. Louis summers tend to be hot. While part of the fun of coming to the opera can be dressing up, there is no formal dress code at OTSL. We often tell people to dress as they would for a summer wedding. You’ll see cocktail dresses, jeans, khakis and polo shirts, and coats and ties. Wear what you’d like — be comfortable! And of course, if you’re planning to picnic, please dress comfortably and sensibly for the weather. (But remember…no shoes, no shirt, no service.) 


How will I understand what’s going on in the opera?

At Opera Theatre, we perform all of our operas in English. Plus, with projected supertitles, you can always read along. So don’t stress about following all the drama! You can also learn more about each opera with our complimentary program book, which is distributed at every performance in the season, or with digital program notes from our smartphone app. (Please note that digital program notes may not be published until May.) 

You can also prepare on-site with our free opera previews! These take place one hour before every performance and are located in the recital hall at the Community Music School, right next door to the Loretto-Hilton Center. Everyone is welcome, and it’s a great way to get a “crash course” on the story, characters, and history of the show.

If you want to prep in advance of the show, the internet is your best friend! In particular, videos on our YouTube channel and Facebook page can help offer background into each upcoming production.

Opera Previews are generously underwritten by Mary Susman & Tom Herm.


Where did opera come from?

We can credit the ancient Greeks for the idea that is central to opera — that is, the use of singing or chanting to tell a story. It wasn’t until the late Italian Renaissance (1597) that a group called the Florentine Camerata began producing staged works that we’d recognize as opera. Through great creativity and extensive musical and dramatic exploration, the Camerata mainly produced secular entertainment for the nobility. Yet, what started as pleasure for a very few was quickly adored by the masses.

Within 40 years, the Teatro San Cassiano, the first public opera house, opened in Venice (1637). By the end of the seventeenth century, there were sixteen public opera houses in Venice alone, and from there, opera quickly spread across Europe. Lully is widely credited with inventing the comédie-ballet in France, working closely with Molière to integrate music, theatre, comedy, and ballet into a single performance. In England, Purcell and Handel (of Messiah fame) began writing operas in both Italian and English for the British public, focusing on stories from mythology or history.

Perhaps the greatest influence on opera as we know it today was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A product of the Enlightenment, Mozart revolutionized opera with both his narrative and musical forms and with his choice of subject matter — weaving the stories of common people with the stories of the nobility into a single fabric. Writing in both Italian (Così fan tutte, 1790) and his native language, German (The Magic Flute, 1791), he aspired to ensure that the enjoyment of opera could be within reach of all people — a belief Opera Theatre still holds firmly today.

Opera has continued to evolve since then. Bel canto (literally ‘beautiful singing’) style opera dominated the early nineteenth century (Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, for example). Grand opera flourished later in that century with great compositions by Verdi (Aida) and Wagner (The Ring Cycle). Under the verismo style of later Italian composers, articulated most eloquently by Puccini (Madame Butterfly and La bohème), there was an increased emphasis on the day-to-day lives of everyday people.

Today, the possibilities for combining the power of words and music to tell a story are limitless. With each new creation by contemporary composers like John Adams, Jack Perla, Terence Blanchard, Ricky Ian Gordon, or Tobias Picker, passion, whimsy, and heartbreak are once again awakened through music for a new generation of audiences.


Arrival and Parking

How early should I plan to arrive?

Evening performances start at 7:30 p.m. and matinee performances start at 12:30 p.m. Even if you aren’t able to come and picnic before the show, we recommend arriving at least 30 minutes before the start of the opera in order to park and find your seats before the show begins. While we do offer closed-circuit coverage of the performances via television monitors in the lobby, late arrivals will not be seated until an appropriate break in the music. We do this to ensure that our audiences can enjoy the performances with a minimum of distraction.


Where can I park?

From paid garden-adjacent parking to free garage, we’ve got an option for everyone. Season subscribers may pre-purchase parking spots in our preferred Lot K, just steps away from our picnic gardens. OTSL donors at the $1,000 Guarantor Level and above enjoy free reserved parking in Lot K, adjacent to the festival grounds. All other ticket buyers may park for free in the parking garage on Garden Avenue, or pay just $6 a car for the slightly closer ground Lot G, pending availability. ADA accessible spots are also available adjacent to the festival grounds. For more information, please click the link below or contact our Box Office at (314) 961-0644 or boxoffice@opera-stl.org. 

Learn more about parking and directions


What assistance is there for patrons with accessibility needs?

The designated drop-off point for those with limited mobility is the Circle Drive of the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road, 63119). A limited number of accessible parking spots are available in Lot K (near the east entrance to the Loretto-Hilton Center). Please understand that it is not legally permitted to hold or reserve these spots in advance.

View our parking map

Our ushers will be happy to assist patrons from the Circle Drive to their seat in the theater. If you would like to discuss additional accommodations, please contact our Box Office at (314) 961-0644 or boxoffice@opera-stl.org. 

Learn more about our accessibility services


Pre-Show Dining

How does picnicking at the opera work?

Picnicking begins 2 hours prior to each performance. Bring your own, order ahead, or enjoy sandwiches, snacks, and full bar which are all available the day of the opera. You can also learn more about each production during a free opera preview held one hour prior to each performance. After the opera, stay for drinks under the starlight alongside the extraordinary singers who made your heart soar minutes before. It’s fun, informal, and everyone is welcome.

Learn more about picnics and dining


How can I order a boxed pre-show picnic dinner?

Picnic menus for the 2023 Festival Season will be published on our website in late February. These boxed picnic dinners are prepared by Ces & Judy’s Catering and may be pre-ordered up until 4 p.m. the day before your show. Day-of boxed picnic sales are not available.  

Learn more about picnicking at the opera


Can I cancel a previous picnic order?

Picnic orders may be canceled and refunded up until 4 p.m. the day before your scheduled performance. To cancel your picnic, please contact the Box Office by phone or email at (314) 961-0644 or boxoffice@opera-stl.org.


Can I bring my own food and drink?

Absolutely! If you’d prefer to pack your own picnic, or order takeout from one of many wonderful local restaurants, you may do so. BYOB is also permitted.   

Learn more about picnicking at the opera


When are the gardens, picnic area, and concessions bars open?

Our garden and picnic areas will be open for guests beginning two hours prior to the performance time (i.e. 10:30 a.m. for matinees and 5:30 p.m. for evening shows). There are two concessions bars on our grounds: one in the main garden outside the theater, and one in our lobby. The picnic area and concessions bars will re-open at intermission and following the performance. While you are welcome to resume your picnic at those intervals, OTSL does not accept responsibility for any items that are left on a picnic table during the performance.  


Do I need to reserve a picnic table in advance?

Actually, no reservations are needed! The vast majority of our picnic tables are available to the general public on a first come, first served basis. For that reason, we encourage you to arrive two hours prior to your performance if you would like to picnic!

A small number of picnic tables are set aside for reservations by donors of $5,000 or more — please contact us at (314) 963-4228 for more information about in-season donor benefits. 


About the Performance

Is there a dress code to attend the opera?

Leave your ermines and furs at home! After all, St. Louis summers tend to be hot. While part of the fun of coming to the opera can be dressing up, there is no formal dress code at OTSL. We often tell people to dress as they would for a summer wedding. You’ll see cocktail dresses, jeans, khakis and polo shirts, and coats and ties. Wear what you’d like — be comfortable! And of course, if you’re planning to picnic, please dress comfortably and sensibly for the weather. (But remember…no shoes, no shirt, no service.) 


Can I bring food and beverages into the theater with me?

Beverages may be brought into the theater if they are kept in non-glass lidded containers. (Pro tip: the official OTSL tumbler offers the perfect solution and can be purchased at any of our concessions bars!) Food is not permitted into the theater. 


How will I understand what’s going on in the opera?

At Opera Theatre, we perform all of our operas in English. Plus, with projected supertitles, you can always read along. So don’t stress about following all the drama! You can also learn more about each opera with our complimentary program book, which is distributed at every performance in the season, or with digital program notes from our smartphone app. (Please note that digital program notes may not be published until May.) 

You can also prepare on-site with our free opera previews! These take place one hour before every performance and are located in the recital hall at the Community Music School, right next door to the Loretto-Hilton Center. Everyone is welcome, and it’s a great way to get a “crash course” on the story, characters, and history of the show.

If you want to prep in advance of the show, the internet is your best friend! In particular, videos on our YouTube channel and Facebook page can help offer background into each upcoming production.

Opera Previews are generously underwritten by Mary Susman & Tom Herm.


When should I applaud?

Applause etiquette for opera varies widely and has changed across the centuries. There’s no hard and fast rule, but when in doubt, follow those around you! If everyone else is applauding and you feel moved to do so as well, go for it. Typically, applause happens after a song (or aria, in opera) or at the end of a performance during bows.

However, applause isn’t the only way to celebrate a great performance. Since so much opera started in Italy, there are a few Italian words that are traditionally shouted after a stunning performance or during bows. Think of it as elegant cheerleading.

  • Bravo (BRAH voh) for a male singer
  • Brava (BRAH vah) for a female singer
  • Bravi (BRAH vee) for a group of singers.

How long is intermission?

Intermission typically lasts about 20 minutes — enough time to use the restroom, enjoy another beverage, or take in the beautiful sight of our candle-lit garden. 


Is there ADA-accessible seating?

Yes! In addition to seating for wheelchairs and accompanying family and friends, we also will offer audio description and American Sign Language interpretation services on select dates in the 2022 Festival Season. Please visit our accessibility services page for more information, or contact our Box Office at (314) 961-0644 or boxoffice@opera-stl.org. If you require any on-site assistance, please speak with an usher at the theater and they will be happy to help accommodate you.  

Learn more about our accessibility services


What happens after the opera is over?

Just because the opera is over doesn’t mean the night has to be! Opera Theatre is well-known for our post-show parties…and everyone is invited. Reconvene in the gardens after the show to meet the singers you just saw on stage and to mingle with fellow audience members. (OTSL reserves the right to cancel post-show gatherings based on the latest local and CDC health guidelines.)