Friday, December 25, 2009

Opera Glasses- A Look Through History

By Jeff Bridges

Devices to improve eyesight in general have been around for hundreds of years. It was not until the 1800's that opera glasses achieved their position as a status symbol among theater-goers of the day.

It went far beyond simply getting a good look at the stage from the affordable seats. If you were at the opera you were also there to be seen. This was because it was an important social event. Because of this, many people spent just as much time looking at the audience as they did the stage. A simple and fashionable way of magnifying the action was needed and opera glasses were invented.

Opera glasses quickly became more than just ways to see the stage. A night at the opera was simply more than just an evening out. People came to the opera to be seen, and to make important social connections. It was critical to be able to see who was sitting with whom and what people were doing during the performance. Many people spent more of the evening scanning the audience than they did watching the drama onstage.

Because of this, anything connected to the opera could become a status symbol. Opera glasses were no exception. A person attending the theater often had a pair made of expensive materials such as gold or enamel. The outsides of the glasses were often highly decorated. Cases to keep the glasses in were often highly decorated as well. Different variations came into being including lorgnette models that had an attached handle and folding models that were quite compact.

There are a number of places where you can find and purchase opera glasses. They still come in a range of different models and prices can range from the very reasonable to the extremely expensive. You may need to look a bit to find ones that fit your needs and your budget. Good starting places include camera stores and some Internet sites.

When you are purchasing your opera glasses you should check the level of magnification that they offer. It is usually recommended that you look for a 3x magnification. This will allow you a good field of vision and will minimize the amount of shaking may see from hand movement. Anything over 5x magnification is considered to be too high.

The actual style you choose is a matter of preference. Do you like the traditional look of the lorgnette? Are you interested in a style which folds down very small? You can also look at the accessories that are out there including straps and carrying pouches.

Opera glasses can be a useful and beautiful accessory. It is an item with a long history that can make your trip to the theater much more enjoyable.

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