There are many ways to enjoy opera in Seattle on a budget: partial subscriptions, rush and standing room tickets, live audio broadcasts from the Seattle Opera stage at McCaw Hall, community performances, sing-alongs, family programs, special discounts, and special events. Some events are free and everyone is welcome. Find details of the current season and these various listening—and saving—opportunities below.
What is opera? Western Opera emerged in 16th Century Italy with the idea of setting a classical Greek drama to music. The libretto (“booklet”) or dramatic text was set to music and staged with costumes and scenery. The earliest surviving opera is ” L’Euridice” by Jacopo Peri, a work that was one of the first to include recitative singing—somewhere between speech and song—that is used throughout the story and sets opera apart from musicals. L’Euridice was first performed as an entertainment at the wedding of Maria de’ Medici and Henry IV of France. The recitative singing is broken up with arias or solo pieces and choruses or group singing. Opera spread across Europe and evolved several distinct styles. New operas are being written today.
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About Seattle Opera
Since 1963, Seattle Opera has built a reputation as a leading opera company, recognized in the United States as well as around the world. In its first decade, artists such as Beverly Sills, Joan Sutherland, Franco Corelli, and James McCracken regularly sang at Seattle Opera. A few of the noteworthy accomplishments include the 1971 first fully staged production of The Who’s rock opera “Tommy” and the 1975 complete cycle of Wagner’s Ring—an event that had not happened in the United States since 1939 and unique outside of New York. This Ring was produced twice each summer, once in German and once in Andrew Porter’s English singing translation, for nine consecutive seasons until 1984.
Other landmark productions included the 1993 “Pelléas et Mélisande” with sets by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. In August of 2003, the company inaugurated its new state-of-the-art home, Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. In 2010, the company presented the world premiere of its first operatic commission, “Amelia”, by Daron Aric Hagen. In 2015, Seattle Opera commissioned and produced the 2015 world premiere of “An American Dream”, an opera whose plot, crowd-sourced from the Seattle community, dealt with the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. In 2016, Seattle Opera presented “As One”, depicting a transgender woman’s journey. In 2023, the World Premiere of a new opera based on Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and directed by acclaimed Afghan filmmaker Roya Sadat.
The Seattle Opera mainstage season runs from August to May and includes five operas. Special events throughout the year may take place next door at the Opera Center as well as venues around the Puget Sound region. Each year, people of all ages attend Seattle Opera performances and programs to enjoy this unique art form.
- Address: Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St, Seattle, WA 98109
- Parking: Mercer Street Garage across from MacCaw Hall, Fifth Avenue Garage at Harrison Street, surface lots on either side of Mercer Street between Third and First Avenues, across the Seattle Center campus south of Key Arena and adjacent to Pacific Science Center. More info: Seattle Opera – Directions & Parking
When attending an opera, be sure to arrive early enough to find parking and get to your seat before the opera begins. Latecomers will not be seated once the music has begun and must wait to be seated until an appropriate interval (usually intermission).
Seattle Opera 2022/23 Season
- Samson & Delilah in Concert
- The Jungle Book
- A Thousand Splendid Suns
- John Moore in Recital
- La traviata
- More info: Seattle Opera – 2022/23 Season Tickets
Seattle Opera 2023/24 Season
- Das Rheingold
- Holiday Chorus Concert
- X: The Life and Times of Malcom X
- The Barber of Seville
- More info: Seattle Opera – 2023/24 Season Tickets
How to enjoy Seattle Opera on a budget
Listed below are many ways to enjoy Seattle Opera, even if you are on a tight budget.
Season tickets save you up to 20%. Full-season packages in the Second-Tier price zone on Wednesdays are the least expensive subscription. All it takes is a down payment to place your order. Then, use Seattle Opera’s flexible, interest-free payment plan to spread the cost of your tickets out until two weeks before your first performance. Youth (<21) and Seniors (65+) can enjoy discounted prices. More info: Seattle Opera – 2022/23 Season Tickets and Seattle Opera – 2023/24 Season Tickets.
BRAVO! Young Professionals Group (age 21-39). The $85 annual membership fee quickly pays for itself with season tickets at a 50% discount, plus free wine and coffee at intermission and invitations to parties all year. More info: Seattle Opera – BRAVO!
Pay What You Wish tickets are available for some performances. Sign up for the Seattle Opera – Email Newsletter.
Rush | Day-of-Show tickets are available for $25-$45 to students, non-profit employees, educators, first responders, seniors (65+), military, low income, and others. More info: Seattle Opera – Rush Ticket Programs
Teen Tix. Teens enrolled in Seattle Center’s TeenTix program can purchase opera tickets for $5 on the day of the performance when Rush tickets are also available. More info: TeenTix.
Standing Room Only (SRO) tickets are offered when performances are sold out at McCaw Hall. Standing room is located at the back of the orchestra section and you must stand for the entire performance. SRO tickets become available on the day of the performance, except for Sunday performances it is one day before. SRO tickets must be purchased by phone or in-person at the box office; SRO tickets are not available online. Please be aware that the English translations are not visible from the standing room location.
Family Day. At least once a year, Seattle Opera designates a Sunday “Family Day” matinee. For these specially designated performances, students 18 and under in the company of an adult in the same seating zone pay only $20 for almost any seat. Family Days also feature special student-oriented activities before the performance and/or during intermission, such as a costume dress-up station or the chance to interact with members of the chorus and orchestra. Please no babes in arms.
Military Discount. Save 15% on single tickets purchased in advance for Seattle Opera mainstage performances at McCaw Hall. Limit two discounted tickets per Military ID using promo code SOSALUTED. See also Rush | Day-of-Show tickets above.
Educator Discount: Save 15% on single tickets purchased in advance for Seattle Opera mainstage performances at McCaw Hall. Limit two discounted tickets per educator ID. Use promo code SOBRILLIANT. See also Rush | Day-of-Show tickets above.
Corporate Discount. Many employees of Puget Sound companies are eligible to receive Seattle Opera ticket discounts via Passport Unlimited, including Microsoft, Swedish, BECU, Apple, Google, T-Mobile, Franciscan Health, and many more. Employees of these companies should log into their passport portal to access their ticket discount information.
More info: Seattle Opera – Ways to Save
Seattle Opera Community performances
Community performances bring the magic of live opera to locations around the Puget Sound region. Each performance features a singer and pianist performing a variety of musical selections for you to enjoy. More info: Seattle Opera – Community Performances
- SUNDAY, JUNE 25, 2023. Tickets: Adult $15, Youth (18 & Under) $5. Seattle Opera – Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World. Based on the award-winning children’s book of the same title written and illustrated by Laurence Anholt. The 35-minute-long bilingual opera was written for youth audiences. This opera tells the story of Mariana, a young girl living in Mexico City who has her portrait painted by Frida Kahlo. At first, Mariana is nervous about meeting Frida because of strange rumors about the eccentric artist. But Mariana quickly befriends Frida and learns two important lessons in the process: that art can happen anywhere and how important it is to be brave even when you feel scared.
Free opera rebroadcasts on KING radio
Tune into Classical KING FM 98.1 for broadcasts of each opera during the season on the radio and at king.org, select Saturday mornings at 10 AM Pacific Time. More info: Seattle Opera – Mornings on KING FM
Seattle Opera rebroadcasts 2022-2023
- 10 AM on Saturday, September 17, 2022: The Elixir of Love, recorded August 2022
- 10 AM on Saturday, November 19, 2022: Tristan and Isolde, recorded October 2022
- 10 AM on Saturday, February 18, 2023: Samson and Delilah, recorded January 2023
- 10 AM on Saturday, April 22, 2023: A Thousand Splendid Suns, recorded March 2023
- 10 AM on Saturday, June 17, 2023: La traviata, recorded May 2023
Free Seattle Opera talks
Seattle Opera Talks are entertaining presentations that take a deeper dive into this unique art form, with topics ranging from opera’s rich literature and history to behind-the-scenes insights about how these grand productions come together on the stage. Opera Talks are scheduled throughout the year at the Opera Center next to McCaw Hall. Past Opera Talks are available online. More info: Seattle Opera – Opera Talks
- Friday, February 24 at 7:00 PM. Free; RSVP requested. Spend your evening with the team of creatives who took on the challenge of adapting Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling novel for the opera stage into a Seattle Opera world premiere. Join composer Sheila Silver and librettist Stephen Kitsakos as they discuss their inspiration behind this one-of-a-kind score. Hear from conductor Viswa Subbaraman (Flight ‘21 and Blue ‘22) and acclaimed Afghan filmmaker and stage director Roya Sadat about how they plan to bring this story to life in the pit and on the stage. More info: Seattle Opera – A Thousand Splendid Suns Opera Talk
Upcoming music events on our calendar
Listed below are music events of all kinds, from no cover gigs to concerts and outdoor festivals in every music genre.
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