Make sure you are working with a pressed and lightly starched linen napkin. The starch is necessary so that the napkin will stand up when folded.
Lay the napkin out flat on the table and fold it in half.
Begin making an accordion fold by folding the bottom edge of the halved napkin up about one inch, then while holding that in place, folding it back under the napkin in the opposite direction another inch. Continue this pattern until you have are within about four inches of the top of the napkin, finish with the last fold down away from you rather than up, and stop there.
Fold the accordion pleats in half down the center, and with the folds facing to the outside. You will notice that the four-inch flat portion of the napkin now sticks out from the center of your folds.
Fold the four-inch flat portion back toward the napkin so as to create a base for the opera fan to stand up. The folds will fan out once you stand the napkin up on this base.