By now you're all probably wondering if there is any time to rest during the season. If you define "to rest" as to slow down, then there is, and it's called the theatre and the opera.
Although these places of entertainment are available to anyone who can buy a ticket, Society found a way to make it a little more their own. The Society hostesses buy up the tickets to the best seats and boxes. If it turns out they cannot attend, they give the tickets to friends. Also, it is only during the months of the season when evening dress is obligatory.
Theatre-going was not always a popular form of entertainment with Society and the actors and actresses were looked upon with disdain. But that is beginning to change and more and more choose the theatre or the opera for an evening of relaxation.
As Society folk like to do things in groups, going to the theatre or the opera in a group is common practice. When attending a performance which starts about 8:15 or 8:30 p.m., dinner would be eaten early and a lot less formally. The cost of a ticket is also fairly expensive. Refreshments are carried around by attendants to the boxes and stalls. It is rare for the ladies to eat or drink at the play. Between acts, the men get together in a smoking foyer found in all the best theatres to have a drink and a smoke while the women go from box to box to compliment each other as well as gossip. Around midnight, the opera is over and you are free to go out to a club or home.
The opera is more closely linked with the Season. The cost of the tickets is almost twice the price of theatre tickets. In return, the patrons saw a magnificent show with top name performers.
As described by the author of "The Night Side of London" in speaking of Covent Garden:
"The opening night of the Opera Season at Covent Garden is always one of the chief events of the Season - to many it is the event. There is plenty of music of all kinds to be heard in London all the year round, but the Opera at Covent Garden is its highest expression. The Opera House itself is not an impressive building, comparing none too favourably with the opera-houses of Paris, of Vienna, or even New York. But on the opening night of the Season, or on a night when a great singer is to appear, there is no more brilliant sight to be seen in any land than the interior of Covent Garden."
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