Blame Bugs Bunny for society's misconceptions about opera. No, not all opera singers are overweight; few are these days. And you won't be kicked out of the concert hall by an angry rabbit - or anybody else - if you make a noise during the show. Warner Bros. had part of it right: Operas are almost always in a foreign language. But these days a screen over the stage projects the English translation of the lyrics while they're sung. Peggy Kriha Dye, a soprano who is also director of education and community programming for Opera Columbus, explained what to expect during a night at the opera.

Blame Bugs Bunny for society's misconceptions about opera. No, not all opera singers are overweight; few are these days. And you won't be kicked out of the concert hall by an angry rabbit - or anybody else - if you make a noise during the show. Warner Bros. had part of it right: Operas are almost always in a foreign language. But these days a screen over the stage projects the English translation of the lyrics while they're sung. Peggy Kriha Dye, a soprano who is also director of education and community programming for Opera Columbus, explained what to expect during a night at the opera.

What are the big differences between a musical and an opera?

In an opera, everything is sung. Also, it is the way that they sing, the technique they use. There's no microphones in opera, so they have to have a special technique that allows their voice to project to a 3,000-seat house, or whatever it may be, and go over an orchestra without a microphone.

How do you project that much?

The breathing is huge. You want to use your whole body when you sing. If you're touching someone when they're singing full-out opera, you'll feel vibrations. The diaphragm goes down, and you want to get as much space as you can for the air.

What will someone hear during an opera?

When you're seeing an opera you're going to hear arias - arias are the solos - and ensembles. In between, there's something called recits (which is short for recitative). These recits are like the dialogue. It moves the plot very quickly. It's almost like talking, but the singers are doing it on a pitch. If they're done well, you won't even know that they're singing them. Usually the drama goes through the recits and then a character sings about what just happened or what's just about to happen or how they feel about it.

How important is it to read a plot summary before going to an opera?

I always recommend it if I have friends going to the opera. You can find a synopsis anywhere online. The more you do, the more enjoyable it will be.

Do audience members dress up?

It is sad that a lot of opera goers don't dress up anymore, but overall, yes. What you would wear to church is a good rule of thumb, and up from there. I'm just happy there's people in the audience, and if they're in jeans I'm OK, but I think it's an event. It should be an event.

What else should people know about a night at the opera?

One big misconception is that you can't make any sound. You can laugh out loud, you can clap. Usually after an aria, there's applause. After a big ensemble, there's applause. When the conductor comes out before the opera starts and after intermission, we always applaud. At the end of arias, you can yell "Bravo!" and "Brava!" "Brava" is for a woman, and "bravo" is for a guy. "Bravi" is for mixed men and women. The more enthusiastic you are, the better.

How does Columbus' opera scene compare to other cities'?

The potential for the company here is huge. We are a city to be reckoned with. Plus, Cincinnati has a great opera company. Dayton has an opera company. We are six hours from DC; we're nine hours from Toronto and nine hours from New York. We are set up to have a great operatic community in Columbus.