Maybe you know what space opera is, but in case you don’t, I’m going to peel back the misconceptions. Space Opera is not what you think it is.
First off, let’s get this out of the way…
There is very little singing
OK, on occasion, there might be some incidental singing, but as operas go, it’s fairly prosaic. Most of the characters just say their lines, and generally you can understand what they’re saying. If they decide to sing, it will usually be a proper song, and not just dialogue shouted melodically at the top of the singer’s lungs. The general quality of the singing itself suffers from not having professional opera stars doing the singing. Space pirates and renegades are dilettantes at best.
The “space” element isn’t exactly NASA-compliant
You hear “space opera” and you’ve just got to envision singers floating majestically in zero-gravity, their vocals carried over the mics inside their spacesuits. Nope!
For most space opera, space is just an excuse to have awesome settings like starships, space stations, and alien planets. It’s even rare that you get to see authentic space elements like weightlessness, multi-year missions within a solar system, and project cancellations due to financial concerns (certain exceptions apply).
A lot of it is actually written
This goes back to the whole singing thing. You can read space opera without even a passing familiarity with how to read sheet music. You can find books and books filled with regular old prose, readable by any literate adult (and many literate children).
It is not considered to be a cultural experience
A night of watching or reading space opera will not get you many points with the monocle-and-top-hat crowd. You can get the full space opera experience while wearing a t-shirt and jeans, a brown coat and scarf, or articulated power armor – your call.