We have nothing against the trend of high-cultural institutions trying to engage with audiences in informal, edgy ways. Opera at a train station? Love it. Theater in a cave, or dance in a laundromat? Bring it on. But sometimes we seek out culture specifically because we crave formality, because the sloppiness of modern life leaves us cold. At times like that, there is no better treat than a night at the Los Angeles Opera. Even in this flip-flop– and iPhone-obsessed town, everyone at the opera is dressed to the nines and determinedly civilized. In the hushed elegance of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, it feels rude to swear, much less check your email. So you give in to the romance of the evening. Will your heart rise and fall with the passion onstage? Almost certainly. Will you have a glass of Champagne as you eavesdrop on the fancy Europeans at intermission? But of course. And will there be tears in your eyes as the final curtain falls? Only if you're human. —Sarah Fenske
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn., 90012. (213) 972-8001, laopera.org.