A Theater Glossary

April 25, 2006

Aria A solo vocal piece sung during an opera
Box seats Theater seating in an enclosed space with one side that opens to the auditorium. Box seats line the sides of the theater and can be very close the stage. Box seats tend to be more expensive than other seats in the theater. Because this is where dignitaries and the wealthy sat to see and be seen by the audience, the views of the stage are not always better.

An Italian word often shouted during the applause in appreciation for a performance that is particularly moving, technically excellent or otherwise exceptional.

Curtain call  The appearance of the performers at the front of the stage during the applause.
Dress circle A section of seats in the lower balcony above the orchestra section.
Entracte A word meaning "intermission" in French.
Gallery The uppermost section of seating. These seats are generally less expensive.
Intermission A brief pause or break in a performance between acts. Intermissions usually last about 15 minutes.
Libretto The words or text of an opera.
Loggione The gallery or the uppermost section of seats in an Italian opera house.
Matinée A daytime or afternoon performance.
Mezzanine The lowest balcony in a theater or the first few rows of the balcony.
Orchestra seating The seats on the ground floor of the theater directly in front of the stage. The orchestra section is generally considered to have the best seats because it offers an unobstructed, close view of the stage.
Overture Music played at the beginning of an opera or ballet, often before the curtain has opened but after the lights have dimmed.
Palchi A word meaning “boxes” in Italian.
Paloscenico A word meaning “stage” in Italian.
Parterre The orchestra section or the ground floor section of seats immediately in front of the stage in French theaters.
Platea The orchestra section or ground floor section of seats directly in front of the stage in Italian theaters.
Standing room A section in the theater where people must stand to watch a performance. Tickets for this section are generally the least expensive.
Stalls  A term, used in UK theaters, for the ground floor or orchestra section of seats directly in front of the stage.
Supertitles  See surtitles.
Surtitles  A written translation of the lyrics of an opera shown on a screen above the stage.
Will call A term meaning that tickets will be held at the box office for pick up about an hour before the start of a performance. A receipt or confirmation email, the credit card used to buy the tickets, and a photo ID are usually required to collect the tickets.


The section of the theater in front of the stage where audience members stand for the performance. A well-known section of the Globe Theatre in London, it was reserved for less affluent theater goers who could not afford full price tickets. The roof of this section in the Globe is uncovered.

Related Articles

The Best Seat in the Opera House

Sign up for our newsletter
Stay up-to-date with all the latest news including special offers and announcements.