Friday, December 25, 2009

By Jeff Bridges

You may not want to bring binoculars to catch all the action of a performance on stage so Opera Glasses would be the next best thing. Opera houses built many years ago have balconies that are very far from the stage with cheaper seats. Often times they were such a distance that you could only see figures moving across the stage and forget about seeing faces that is part of the acting processes. Opera glasses would enable those people in the gallery to see much better almost to the point of seeing the facial expressions of the performers. Opera Glasses are not a new item on the market because they have been available since the 50's.

Binoculars and Opera Glasses have several major differences including the fact that opera glasses are smaller and made to be unnoticed or be tucked away where no one could see them until the performance started. Today there are several types that look like a flat case easily carried in a women's bag or in a suit pocket, but touch a button and they pop up. There are some that fold up on each other and hard to notice unless they are fully pulled out and ready to use. Some manufactures make reproductions of older models that have a rod from which to hold them called lorgnettes enabling the view to hold with one hand. This rod folds and practically disappears when not in use.

Opera glasses are easily purchased even in today's market. A cheap model may cost under $100 US dollars, at around $50, but they can go up in price to hundreds of dollars. The expensive types will have better optics and magnifications and probably be a little more fashionable as well. Vintage opera glasses can cost increasingly more dollars just because of the fact they are old. Just make sure they still work well.

Some theaters give you the opportunity to rent opera glasses for a small fee. If you are an opera or theater enthusiast that attends regularly you may want to have a pair of your own, but if you one go once in awhile renting them is a good option. If you want to buy your own it is a good idea to try out the rented ones to see what you prefer. You may like the ones you hold one handed with the rod or you might like the ones you use like binoculars. You might find out you don't even want to use them.

Binoculars differ from opera glasses in magnification. The system used in opera glasses is a simple system whereas that used in binoculars is quite extensive. The system used in opera glasses is based on the simple system invented by Galileo called the Galilean optical system. The images will not be as sharp with opera glasses but you can still see most of what you need to on the stage

China is the major producer of opera glasses today. They usually have a 3 X magnification that is good for a concert hall or big auditorium. Some go up to 5 X but they tend to cost more. Some come equipped with a center focus and others don't focus at all. The ones that do not focus usually have a small LED light that is placed between the barrels for the eyes. It helps you to read the program in dim lights without bothering the person in the seat next to you. People with good vision have no problem with these but if you do wear glasses or contacts you might want to look into the focusing type. There is a mechanism for the focus in the focusing opera glasses that takes the place of the light. You can use them with corrective lenses or without.

Opera Glasses usually are accompanied by a case and especially look for this in the vintage ones. Some are soft sided and others hare hard and can be lined with velvet. Some antique glasses are made of ivory or enamel with cloisonne and they may be bejewelled or framed in gold or silver. Old ones were very beautiful and elegant. Either vintage or modern glasses make a great gift for those who love the ballet, opera or theater.

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