CriticalDance Forum

Opera Glasses 'Everybody Uses Them or Wishes They Did'
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Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sat Nov 19, 2005 9:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Opera Glasses 'Everybody Uses Them or Wishes They Did'

This topic was inspired by a thoughtless comment from a fellow Critical Dancer. Share your experiences using Opera Glasses! It’s not as if I’m on here defending myself. I’m defending ALL opera glass users all over the world. To paraphrase a line from Seinfeld:

“No one should have to suffer shame and humiliation because they bring opera glasses to the ballet!”

Below is my reaction to the comment under NBoC Fall 2005:

Posted: 20 Nov 2005 03:20 am Post subject:


Thanks for coming OUT and thanks for coming to my rescue Kate! I had no idea an innocent remark such as the below would create so much controversy!

“That’s precisely why I like the Mezzanine view from above. During an intimate pas de deux, I make good use of my powerful opera glasses.”

David made me out to be a Telescope Peeping Balletomane! I was fortunate enough to score a subscriber rush Mezzanine seat for today’s matinée performance. Sure, I can’t have the best of both worlds by moving between 2 seats during the actual ballet itself. At least I can enjoy a different perspective and still experience the same view from the closer seats I am accustomed to. I sat behind Karen Kain in row B for Thursday’s evening Swan Lake.

By the way, it should be noted that I suffered for that Mezzanine seat. I, along with two dozen hearty ballet fans, lined up for up to 60 minutes! The line for the 11 a.m. box office opening actually began at 10! It was a cold 30 degrees Fahrenheit and quite windy in Toronto. Sure others suffered more. I made a quick run to a local café for a large latté and hence frost bite did not set in! That hot latté fortified me enough to survive my 40 minute wait. Yes I suffer for my art! At least the line up was good news for the National Ballet of Canada. Sure, seats were still available for Swan Lake but at least there were fans clamoring to gobble them up! The magic of Karen Kain is having an effect!

After that long wait under deplorable conditions, I was going to use my POWERFUL opera glasses despite what my fellow ballet goers might think. FYI: Both my ballet neighbors in the Mezzanine also used opera glasses! What’s so wrong with seeing a romantic pas de deux between the lovely Heather Ogden and handsome Nehemiah Kish up close? What’s wrong with appreciating beautiful faces, beautiful bodies, and beautiful movement?

In case anybody is interested, I use the Pentax FB-9 Lite. Fits in your pocket yet gets you up close to the pas de deux action!! There…I have laid my soul bare on CriticalDance! Opera Glass lovers unite and join me in my quest to remove the stigma behind opera glasses! Perhaps this merits a topic of its own in Dance Issues? Come on, I bet you there are thousands of ballet fans who smuggle their opera glasses into the theatre only to make their appearance when the house lights go down. I know you’re out there! OUT yourself as Kate and I have done! Join me in Dance Issues for Opera Glasses ‘Everybody Uses Them or Wishes They Did!’

I imagine some people use Opera Glasses because they sit in the Oxygen Mask seats. I imagine some use them because of poor eyesight. Or, perhaps, some like me use opera glasses to gain a greater appreciation of the art? Don’t be embarrassed, post your thoughts! I say Opera Glasses are good for you and the most natural thing to bring to the ballet! There, I feel so much better.

Click HERE for an educational article about this touchy subject discussed most often behind closed doors!

Author:  DavidH [ Sun Nov 20, 2005 12:41 am ]
Post subject: 

My comment wasn't thoughtless, it was full of thought. It's just weird to see people using opera glasses who are sitting within the first few rows of the stage. I get the bad eyesight angle, but it has been my experience that most of those using glasses that close don't have a bad eye sight.

I thought about this a lot.


Author:  salzberg [ Sun Nov 20, 2005 3:20 am ]
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Just a quick reminder about the criticaldance courtesy policy....

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sun Nov 20, 2005 7:49 am ]
Post subject: 

Dear David:

If you read my comments, you would have realized they were in direct relation to the proximity of my seat – which in this case was the Mezzanine! I shall repeat myself; nobody should be ashamed of using opera glasses. They only enhance the ballet viewing experience wherever you happen to be sitting. If you do sit far back or at an angle, I highly suggest you purchase a good pair.

As far as I know, opera glasses are made available for a small rental fee or even as a courtesy at every opera house on the planet. The mere fact we are even discussing this is ludicrous. I LMAO writing the above posts! Obviously, not everyone has my sense of humour. I’m starting to wonder if most people on here have any sense at all. Perhaps, they are just too prudish to use Opera Glasses?

Author:  salzberg [ Sun Nov 20, 2005 7:53 am ]
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Obviously, not everyone has my sense of humour.

You and David, I think, are talking about two different types of people. You're writing about those who sit far away (like in the seats I can afford); David is talking about those who sit close and use opera glasses reasons.

Let's remember, please, to address the issue without attacking those of differing opinions.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sun Nov 20, 2005 8:07 am ]
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You could also use opera glasses sitting close to the stage to zoom in on a facial expression or some detail in the set.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sun Nov 20, 2005 9:56 am ]
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Look what I found through the American Ballet Theatre website! I have been vindicated! Opera Glass Lovers rejoice!!

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:00 pm ]
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I think there was at least one person I knew who would use opera glasses from the front row to read the conductor's sheet music...

But then again, I also knew one person who would use opera glasses from the front row to inspect dancers' features... I can tell you that you can scare some dancers by flipping out your opera glasses or binoculars from the front rows.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:19 pm ]
Post subject: 

I think it important to note there are no X-Ray Opera Glasses on the market. I had no idea this topic would create such a heated debate!

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sun Nov 20, 2005 5:14 pm ]
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Wow! We’re almost up to 100 views! Something tells me the sale of opera glasses will go up!

Author:  Lucy [ Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:38 pm ]
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I confess I use them. Getting on in years and eyesight not what it used to be I need them. I like to see the facial expressions of the dancers. When I danced at the Met I knew it was a given that lots of people used them. In fact Franco Zefferelli told us "at every moment someone in this house will have their opera glasses focused on you, even if you are in the back of the chorus". Thank God it was a big house so you really couldn't see just how many people had them.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Mon Nov 21, 2005 8:05 am ]
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It warms my heart to read that ballet fans with opera glasses are emerging from the darkness to share their opera glass experiences! This is good! This is healthy! Don’t be afraid. You are normal. There are others out there just like you! Don’t be intimidated by those anti-opera glass prudes. Speak out and be heard! We live in a free just society. Let freedom ring!!! :lol:

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:30 pm ]
Post subject: 

You’re writing about those who sit far away (like in the seats I can afford)...

Click HERE for Salzberg's view of the New York City Ballet! You should really invest in a good pair of opera glasses! I’m curious, how much do the :shock: Hubble Telescope :shock: seats go for at NYCB? I imagine with that view they’re a real bargain! At least there is order in the world with Salzberg's sitting far, far away from the stage whiles I’m sitting right behind the Artistic Director at the NBoC! Yes, there is justice in this world! :lol:

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Nov 22, 2005 3:30 am ]
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In the Royal Opera House, the third balcony or "The Gods" as my Gran used to called them, there are some benches on the side and the far reaches sell for £2 or so for ballet. Sadly, your opera glasses wouldn't help, Michael, as there is no view of the stage.

Author:  ksneds [ Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:46 am ]
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Actually the fourth ring seats in the NY State Theatre (NYCB's home) are nothing to sniff about. The theatre is built specifically for dance, so you never feel that far away from the stage, because you never are. The 4th ring is also steeply raked so there's almost never anyone blocking your view. And there are few if any seats with restricted view - a rarity among theatres today.

Fourth ring seats cost from about $15 if you have a 4th ring society membership - one of the best deals around, 4th ring society membership which is $20 per year (not including Nutcracker) allows you to buy 4th ring seats at $15 no matter the date or seat location. Normal tickets are $30, with the first two rows - lower down - at $42.

With my opera glasses, I much prefer 4th ring at the NYST to even most of the orchestra seats at the Met. You can see the ballet, see the patterns and see the whole stage and it's still cheaper than the higher rings at the Met. Why pay $60 when you can see just about as much for $15?


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