The observation of human activity must surely be an expensive proposition, and we are interested in helping defray some of those costs. Therefore, we will be offering a series of reports, explaining in simple terms what must be baffling to visitors from other galaxies.
Our goal is to be a fully-integrated planet Earth solution, and an indispensable resource for the alien on a budget.
Opera is a curious form of human “performance,” meaning it takes place on an elevated stage in front of an audience, which has inexplicably exchanged local currency for the privilege of witnessing the event.
It is this agent’s opinion that, save for a few oddballs and/or sufferers of trauma (severe electrical shock, kick of a race horse), almost no Earthling truly enjoys watching an opera. Yet, they’ve been well-attended for centuries.
In general terms, the show consists of portly Europeans in lavish dress, hollering for two hours. There is usually an incomprehensible story that accompanies the yelling, which is conveyed via heavy accents or a foreign language. Spectators are forced to tap some rarely-used inner-strength, in order not to sneak repeated glances at their wristwatches, or lapse into dormancy.
During an opera, the performers glide around the stage and take turns emitting sustained tones. The audience is conditioned to applaud whenever the wail is prolonged to the point where it becomes extra-annoying, and snaps the spectators out of their daydreams about how sweet life will be once this torture is over.
Some of the more accomplished “singers” can actually increase the volume of their yelling, as the siren-like shriek continues. In those rare instances audience members know to not only applaud, but to also smile, exchange expressions of astonishment, and repeatedly mouth the word “bravo.”
In different settings these same humans would likely choose alternate phrases, such as “incredible,” “remarkable,” or “kick-ass.” But inside the opera house it’s always “bravo.” Tradition demands it. It would be considered very bad form if (for instance), a patron screamed “fucking A!” to convey his or her appreciation of an operatic performance.
Because it is so difficult to endure, opera is considered to be high art. Among humans who self-identify as sophisticates, activities that are easily-accessible and entertaining are automatically dismissed. If it’s fun or widely popular, it will be mocked or ignored by a certain segment of the population. (See also: hipsters, pretentious pricks.)
Opera is a favorite among aging upper-class sophisticates who live in large cities. Within this human group it is very important to be observed attending an operatic performance several times per calendar year. Preferably on “opening night.” Most do not enjoy it, but are bound by social pressure to continue with the tradition. (See also: family, church.)
Shape-shifting aliens wishing to infiltrate an opera audience should wear a white scarf on the outside of their tuxedo jacket, flat and partially hidden by the collar. They should also have well-manicured facial hair, and project an aura that says, “I could crush you like a bug with a single phone call.”
If the female form is chosen, she should be short, plump, and powdered.
I hope this report has proven to be helpful. As always, I will be standing in the open field behind Dollar General Store, every Thursday between midnight and 2 a.m., if you should have follow-up questions.
This concludes today’s broadcast.