in ,

Redditor Mortified After Partner Arrives To Opera In Gym Clothes And Eats During Performance

woman in formal attire seated in balcony overlooking a stage
sergio_kumer/Getty Images

A night at the opera was once a glamorous affair where tuxedos and evening gowns were de rigueur.

But opera houses have sought to make the artform more accessible. Evening attire, complete with top hats and opera gloves, has been replaced with a “come as you are” attitude for most venues.

However, is there a limit?

And if you’re going with your significant other, should you have discussed a dress code in advance?

The woman in an evening gown with the guy in torn jeans and ratty t-shirt plays well in Hallmark romance movies, but in real life, one or both partners are probably going to be uncomfortable.

A woman dealing with a disconnect with their boyfriend over proper opera attire, turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Theatre_loover asked:

“AITA for being annoyed that my partner came to the opera in gym attire and ate during the play?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“Due to a project we recently did at work, my colleagues told me we can get free opera tickets, with a plus one. I was really excited, since I love opera, and asked my partner to join me.”

“He told me he would join after the gym and we will meet there. So we meet at the location, and he is wearing gym stuff—sports shorts and a sports vest.”

“He joked how it is probably too snobbish of a place for it, and he took a pair of jeans with him and a shirt, but he doesn’t really want to bother changing.”

“Now, since I was a small kid and we went to the theatre with my school or parents—where I am from theatre/opera/ballet tickets are super cheap for school kids, and it is a very common school activity to go with your whole class—I knew that it is basic common sense to look decent at such places.”

“I am no fan of fancy overdressing myself, and my partner knows it, however is it not OK to expect at least plain jeans, and not sweatpants? And not to talk loud, EAT OR DRINK during the live performance on stage?”

“So seeing all the actually nicely dressed people arriving to the venue, my partner annoyingly said that I would probably want him to wear the jeans, and now we have to find a place for him to go change, even though he is not so keen on it.”

“I was relieved and did not want to argue, so I did not say much about it. We had to go around the corner for him to change.”

“The first act was good, and we went to get some snacks during the break, but due to the long queue, we did not have the time to eat them. So we came back to our places. My partner sat between me and my colleagues, and with my side vision, I saw him taking the food out.”

“Now as I mentioned, we are adults in our late 30s, and as far as I am concerned I do not have to tell a 35+ year old adult basic etiquette. But I had a bad feeling about it so I turned to him and whispered ‘don’t!!’.”

“He laughed and I was relieved thinking he was just doing a weird joke or whatever. 30 seconds with my side vision I see him EATING the snacks.”

“I was absolutely mortified and speechless. I poked him with my elbow, but he just kinda laughed and ignored me.”

“I was ready to melt though the floor from embarrassment—I can not BELIEVE I am seeing a grown a** person EATING during an opera, and even worse—that being my partner, right next to my colleagues who invited me here.”

“A few minutes later my partner leaned to tell me something, but I was still burning from shame and anger and did not reply, so he asked ‘is it about the food?’ and then rolled his eyes, sighed loudly and stopped talking to me.”

“I could not enjoy the rest of the opera at all, and when my colleagues gathered to discuss it afterwards, I was still feeling too embarrassed, excused myself and left ASAP.”

“My partner caught up with me outside and was annoyed at me ‘being so stuck up about such a petty thing’. According to him it was dark, and he wasn’t sitting directly in front of the stage so ‘who cares, it is OK’.”

“I told him it isn’t about how far away he sits. It is common sense to not do such things in a theatre.”

“He rolled his eyes and told me ‘there is no such rule, it is not written anywhere’ and that I am ‘making up some imaginary rules just to go at him’. I really can not wrap my head around this, so I started questioning my sanity.”

“He also told me that in his opinion it is me who has a problem, and I should discuss it with my therapist ‘that I care too much what people think’—I am in therapy for different reasons, he was actually the one who encouraged me to start therapy in the first place.”

“I mean it is not just about ‘what people think’—as an artist myself I find it insanely rude, uncultured and disrespectful both to actors and people next to you to bring food to the opera and eat it DURING the live performance! We came here specifically for this live event, can you really not wait for like an hour‽‽”

“AITA for being angry and disappointed with the whole experience?”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Most Redditors felt the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“It sounds like he’s punishing you for going. Only a complete ignoramus wouldn’t know the basic etiquette, at least by observation. Seems intentional to me. NTA.”

“He seems to have a chip on his shoulder about snobs, which if she’s going, would make her one.”

“OP didn’t mention him protesting or her having to convince him, he just went and made sure she was miserable.”

“I think that’s his win ‘condition’—that she didn’t enjoy it.” ~ NatashOverWorld

“I think it’s more that he’s punishing her for ‘making’ him come with her. After the way he behaved, I’m sure he doesn’t expect her to invite him anytime soon. In his mind, he won. NTA.” ~ lunaleechats

“Yeah, this seems like a variation of weaponized incompetence. He had to have known that sh*t was not okay—unless he lives under a rock—and knowing that did it anyways.”

“Because what are the odds she is ever going to ask him to another event like this again? NTA.” ~ geekylace

“I was reading this and thought, ‘I’m guilty of this’, because the last time we were at an opera I was 5 months pregnant and my heartburn would make me puke if I didn’t take a sip of my drink every 20-30 minutes.”

“I was very careful, sat at the very back, and still felt a bit guilty.”

“But then with the clothes and stuff? He’s either 3 kids in gym shorts, one petulant teenager, or a grown a** man who did this completely on purpose to ruin her experience. NTA.” ~ KnittingforHouselves

“Pretty sure the fact that nobody else is chomping on crisps and pretzels while there’s an orchestra playing and there are singers performing live music on stage would be a dead giveaway regardless of how ignorant one may be. NTA.” ~ Dairinn

“I’ve been to the orchestra a few times, and one time I was really irritated because the person sitting next to me opened up a loud crinkly bag of food and ate out of it repeatedly for about 10 minutes.”

“But this was at the Zelda Symphony and the person was a kid maybe 7 years old. So while not appropriate I can understand that the show and the person explained the behavior.”

“OP’s partner is a grown a** adult at the full a** opera and should know better. NTA.” ~ vonsnootingham

Some saw no a**holes here (NAH).

“I would say NAH. I’ve lived in several cities with their own operas, ballet companies, theatre districts, and orchestras.”

“In the last few years, most of them have adopted a ‘come as you are’ dress code. Now, the implication is ‘jeans OK’, not sweaty gym clothes, but I can absolutely see someone thinking jeans and a t-shirt are fine.”

“Especially if it’s an event just after work.” ~ dorothy_zbornakk

While a few thought everyone sucked (ESH).

“ESH. Him: everyone else has covered in their comments.”

“You: if I understand correctly, he did change and him eating is allowed by the venue—he wasn’t stopped from bringing the snacks in and there’s no signage against it.”

“So he’s not that far off base with thinking you’re upset because of what people will think and not by him breaking any actual rules.” ~ RugTumpington

Whether the OP’s boyfriend didn’t know or knew and didn’t care, only he can answer that question.

But there is some merit to the OP determining whether what he did violated any actual rules or if he just failed to meet the OP’s previously undisclosed expectations.

If there was a dress code or other rules of etiquette—the venue’s or her own—OP wanted her boyfriend to follow, letting him know in advance would have been helpful for them both.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.