[op-er-uh, op-ruh] /ˈɒp ər ə, ˈɒp rə/

an extended dramatic composition, in which all parts are sung to instrumental accompaniment, that usually includes arias, choruses, and recitatives, and that sometimes includes ballet.
Compare , .
the form or branch of musical and dramatic art represented by such compositions.
the score or the words of such a composition.
a performance of one:
to go to the opera.
(sometimes initial capital letter) an or resident company:
the Paris Opera.
[oh-per-uh, op-er-uh] /ˈoʊ pər ə, ˈɒp ər ə/
noun, Chiefly Music.
a plural of .
[oh-puh s] /ˈoʊ pəs/
noun, plural opuses or especially for 1, 2, opera
[oh-per-uh, op-er-uh] /ˈoʊ pər ə, ˈɒp ər ə/ (Show IPA)
a musical composition.
one of the compositions of a composer, usually numbered according to the order of publication.
a literary work or composition, as a book:
Have you read her latest opus?
Abbreviation: op.
/ˈɒpərə; ˈɒprə/
an extended dramatic work in which music constitutes a dominating feature, either consisting of separate recitatives, arias, and choruses, or having a continuous musical structure
the branch of music or drama represented by such works
the score, libretto, etc, of an opera
a theatre where opera is performed
a plural of opus
/ˈəʊpəs; ˈɔp-/
noun (pl) opuses, opera (ˈɒpərə)
an artistic composition, esp a musical work
(often capital) (usually followed by a number) a musical composition by a particular composer, generally catalogued in order of publication: Beethoven’s opus 61 is his violin concerto

“a drama sung” [Klein], 1640s, from Italian opera, literally “a work, labor, composition,” from Latin opera “work, effort” (Latin plural regarded as feminine singular), secondary (abstract) noun from operari “to work,” from opus (genitive operis) “a work” (see opus). Defined in “Elson’s Music Dictionary” as, “a form of musical composition evolved shortly before 1600, by some enthusiastic Florentine amateurs who sought to bring back the Greek plays to the modern stage.”

No good opera plot can be sensible. … People do not sing when they are feeling sensible. [W.H. Auden, 1961]

As a branch of dramatic art, it is attested from 1759. First record of opera glass “small binoculars for use at the theater” is from 1738. Soap opera is first recorded 1939, as a disparaging reference to daytime radio dramas sponsored by soap manufacturers.


“a work, composition,” especially a musical one, 1809, from Latin opus “a work, labor, exertion” (source of Italian opera, French oeuvre, Spanish obra), from PIE root *op- (Germanic *ob-) “to work, produce in abundance,” originally of agriculture later extended to religious acts (cf. Sanskrit apas- “work, religious act;” Avestan hvapah- “good deed;” Old High German uoben “to start work, to practice, to honor;” German üben “to exercise, practice;” Dutch oefenen, Old Norse æfa, Danish øve “to exercise, practice;” Old English æfnan “to perform, work, do,” afol “power”). The plural, seldom used as such, is opera.

A musical drama that is totally or mostly sung. Aïda, Carmen, and Don Giovanni are some celebrated operas. A light, comic opera is often called an operetta.

Related Terms

horse opera, oater, soap opera, space opera


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    [op-er-uh boof, op-ruh; French aw-pey-ra boof] /ˈɒp ər ə ˈbuf, ˈɒp rə; French ɔ peɪ ra ˈbuf/ noun, plural opéra bouffes, opéras bouffe French, opéras bouffes [aw-pey-ra boof] /ɔ peɪ ra ˈbuf/ (Show IPA) 1. a comic opera, especially of farcical character. /ˈɒpərə ˈbuːf; French ɔpera buf/ noun (pl) opéras bouffes (French) (ɔpera buf) 1. […]

  • Operable

    [op-er-uh-buh l, op-ruh-] /ˈɒp ər ə bəl, ˈɒp rə-/ adjective 1. that can be treated by a surgical . Compare (def 2). 2. capable of being put into use, , or practice. /ˈɒpərəbəl; ˈɒprə-/ adjective 1. capable of being treated by a surgical operation 2. capable of being operated 3. capable of being put into […]

  • Opera-buffa

    [op-er-uh boo-fuh, op-ruh; Italian aw-pe-rah boof-fah] /ˈɒp ər ə ˈbu fə, ˈɒp rə; Italian ˈɔ pɛ rɑ ˈbuf fɑ/ noun, plural opera buffas, operas buffa Italian, opere buffe [aw-pe-re boof-fe] /ˈɔ pɛ rɛ ˈbuf fɛ/ (Show IPA) 1. an Italian farcical comic opera originating in the 18th century and containing recitativo secco, patter songs, and […]

  • Opera cloak

    noun 1. a large cloak worn over evening clothes Also called opera hood

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