SO you don’t think that opera is for you! As they prepare to bring two classics to the Lowry next week, Opera North have produced their own top 10 which may well change your mind and lead you to believe that a night at the opera is a must.

Nothing beats a live performance

You can watch a performance on DVD or catch an aria on YouTube, but listening to live opera singing in the theatre is something else entirely. Add in an audience so mesmerised you can hear a pin drop, and you know you’re in for something special.

You can wear whatever you like

There’s no dress code for a night at the opera. If you want to don your Sunday best and make a special occasion of it, that’s fine, but jeans are just as acceptable.

You won’t be sat there for hours...

Most operas are only a couple of hours long which is about the length of an average film, and there’s usually at least one interval. Tosca is 2 hours 40 minutes, including two 20-minute intervals, and The Merry Widow is only 2 hours 20 minutes, including one interval.

It’s easy to keep up with the action

It’s easy to follow what’s happening on stage, even when everything is sung in a different language. Many operas (such as The Merry Widow) are performed in English anyway. When they’re not, there are screens with surtitles at each side of the stage which translate what’s being sung, so you always know exactly what’s going on.

It shows off the power of the human voice

This is definitely what sets opera apart. The lack of microphones means there’s no barrier between the performer and the audience, and you get the incredible experience of listening to someone singing over a full orchestra without amplification. The sound really does have to be heard to be believed.

It’s an emotional rollercoaster

Opera is perfect for adrenaline junkies and people who love experiencing emotion. In Tosca, Floria Tosca’s aria Vissi d’arte (I lived for art) and her lover, Cavaradossi’s E lucevan le stelle (And the stars were shining) are both tear-jerkers, while The Merry Widow will have you laughing out loud at the characters’ antics on stage.

It won’t break the bank

An evening at the opera is much cheaper than most people think with tickets starting from just £20, depending on where you choose to sit in the auditorium. If you’re under 30, you can sign up to Opera North’s free Under 30s scheme and get tickets for just £10, plus a selection of other benefits.

It’s visually spectacular

Opera is one of the most visually stunning spectacles in all theatre. As well as some sumptuous sets and costumes, you often get a LOT of people on stage at any one time (principals, chorus and sometimes dancers as well). This always makes for an impressive sight – and sound! Look out for the ‘Te deum’ in Tosca which is a great example of the power of ensemble singing.

You don’t need to be an ‘opera buff’

Opera is definitely not just for those who know loads about it. More than anything, it’s an emotional experience. However, if you do fancy doing some homework before you go, Opera North’s ‘in a nutshell’ series has all the essentials (plot, characters, and what you’ll see and hear) at a glance.

There’s something to suit every taste

Say ‘opera’ and everyone has an idea of what they think it will be like, but actually there’s a wide range of different styles. What’s more, the music of one composer sounds utterly different to that of another so, even you don’t like Mozart, it’s worth giving Puccini a go. Take this season at The Lowry. On the one hand, there’s the dramatically-compelling Tosca with its potent mix of lust, love, religion and politics, and on the other, there’s the light-hearted operetta The Merry Widow with its blend of singing and dancing - perfect for some feelgood fun.

Opera North, the Lowry, Salford Quays, Tosca on Wednesday, November 14 and Friday, November 16 and The Merry Widow, Thursday, November 15 and Saturday, November 17. Details from 0843 208 6005 or