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.
Opera was becoming an increasingly popular social event. But not everyone was able to afford the high prices for seats with a close view of the stage. To get a good view of what was happening on stage it became necessary to find a compact way of magnifying it. Scientists found a way to combine telescopic lenses with stereoscopic prisms and invented a method by which a clear three dimensional view of the stage was available.
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 they rapidly became status symbols and signs of wealth, opera glasses rapidly became very ornamented. They were often made of valuable materials and featured gold, painted enamel and expensive inlay work. There were different styles of opera glasses. They ranged from the familiar lorgnette version with one handle to a compact folding version that would fit will into a handbag or a pocket.
Modern opera glasses are much the same as they were in the beginning. They still come in several different models. Opera glasses are still popular as well. They are not hard to find but it may take a bit of looking on your part. You should start your search in stores which sell binoculars. A camera store may have some or they may be able to order them for you.
One thing to look at when selecting your opera glasses is what the level of magnification is. Unlike a telescope or high powered binoculars, you will want to make sure that there is a fairly low level of magnification. A 3x magnification factor is considered ideal. This allows you to get a large field of view and it will keep shaking from hand movement as low as possible.
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.
If you are someone who wants to view theater performances but are not able to pay high prices for your tickets, then opera glasses might be a good solution for you. It will allow you to feel in touch with the past and still enjoy the fine details of modern performances from anywhere in the theater.