1) DON’T BE LATE
Try to follow the old adage “15 minutes early is on time.” Most theaters hold the curtain for five or 10 minutes, but the opera is mercilessly punctual — some of them have spears and those pointy helmets.
2) POWER DOWN
You should know by now to turn off your cell phone or Blackberry, and that’s all the way off. Don’t tweet, don’t text, don’t vibrate, don’t glow. Just don’t emit anything: noises, lights, smells, what have you.
3) CUT THE CRINKLE
Through some quirk in the law of sonics, the loudest substance in the known universe is a candy or lozenge wrapper in a darkened theater. Unwrap them beforehand and let them roll around loose in your pocket or purse.
4) LEAVE THE CRYING FOR THE ACTORS
If you have a baby or small children, use your head, for God’s sake. Maybe the edgy, experimental play replete with violence and nudity in the tiny black-box performing space next to the cyber café isn’t the best place for an infant.
5) MANAGE YOUR MALFUNCTIONS
Avoid cracking your knuckles, propping your feet on the balcony, digging your keys in your ear, or doing that weird thing with your neck. They probably have medications now to suppress those tics: Consult your health care provider.
6) NO FLASHING
Don’t take photographs, even with a cell phone. Nobody wants to see a momentarily blinded Hamlet lose his place and topple into the orchestra pit.
7) KEEP YOUR GLASS HALF-FULL
Wear a monocle. They’re totally coming back. I swear. Wear one in each eye, even, especially if you’re a woman.
8) BE PRACTICAL
Always remove your white gloves before giving a surreptitious handjob.
9) DRESS TO IMPRESS
Actually, unless it’s some kind of benefit show, you don’t have to dress all fancy. Think casual Friday at the office. The management would appreciate basic cleanliness, though, so make sure your clothes are free of holes, your scalp is free of lice, and that you’re not sloughing anything off your skin.
10) SHUSH YOUR INNER CELLO
Don’t hum along with the symphony, even if they’re playing that great Beethoven piece in Die Hard.
11) STAND AND BE RECOGNIZED
You have no obligation to get on your feet and clap if everyone else is giving a standing ovation. Still, if you make a big deal about being the only one just sitting there, you’ll look like a total douche. I’m just saying.
12) APPLAUD WITH SINCERITY
At the end, feel free to shout “Bravo!” or “Brava!,” stomp your feet, whoop, whistle, bark, raise the roof and wave a giant foam hand that says “We’re #1.” You may come across as a rube, but people will enjoy your enthusiasm.