noun, often attributive
col·​or·​a·​tu·​ra | \ ˌkə-lə-rə-ˈtu̇r-ə How to pronounce coloratura (audio) , -ˈtyu̇r- \

Definition of coloratura

1 : elaborate embellishment in vocal music broadly : music with ornate figuration
2 : a soprano with a light agile voice specializing in coloratura

Examples of coloratura in a Sentence

a performance without much coloratura
Recent Examples on the Web Known for long phrases with boundless colors, emotions and dynamics, Rae’s coloratura soared effortlessly with a glittery vibrato, especially in the Richard Strauss and Fanny Mendelssohn pieces. Grace Jean, Washington Post, "Sound system boom rattles Kennedy Center audience, but not soprano Brenda Rae," 16 Sep. 2019 His agility might be compared to that of a coloratura soprano. Emily Langer, Washington Post, "Barry Tuckwell, Australian virtuoso of the French horn, dies at 88," 18 Jan. 2020 With immaculate coloratura chops and nuanced acting, soprano Helen Zhibing Huang illustrated Singa’s transformation from American Dream almost-believer to awakened ally., "White Snake Projects’ immigration opera is a timely tale haunted by American dreams - The Boston Globe," 22 Sep. 2019 Meade showed her credentials as the perfect coloratura. Peter Dobrin,, "Met soprano Angela Meade gives Philly fans a thrilling peek ahead in her recital debut here," 8 Jan. 2018 In arias, the coloratura writing is often intense, so that — as in some Handel operas, only more so — each character plunges at once into a vortex of emotion conveyed by the knots and chains of the rapid-moving vocal line. Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, "Review: Lafayette’s Double Bill of Baroque Opera and Dance Drama," 4 Feb. 2018 Meade showed her credentials as the perfect coloratura. Peter Dobrin,, "Met soprano Angela Meade gives Philly fans a thrilling peek ahead in her recital debut here," 8 Jan. 2018 My mother, Lucille Potter Lavin, was a singer, an opera singer, with a very beautiful lyric coloratura and a brief but dazzling career in New York. Linda Lavin, New York Times, "Linda Lavin: The First Time I Sang in New York. (It Was a Bar Mitzvah.)," 26 Sep. 2017 The role of Gilda has long been a talisman for major lyric coloratura sopranos at Lyric. John Von Rhein,, "Vocal sparks fly in Lyric Opera's riveting 'Rigoletto'," 8 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'coloratura.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of coloratura

circa 1740, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for coloratura

borrowed from 17th-century Italian, "coloring," from Latin colōrātus, past participle of colōrāre "to color entry 2" + Italian -ura -ure

Note: Though conventionally attributed to Italian in German dictionaries since the 17th century, the word apparently first appears in a musical sense in German (as Coloraturen, given as a synonym of Latin Diminutiones "diminutions," in Michael Praetorius, Syntagmatis musici tomus tertius, Wolfenbüttel, 1619, p. 232).

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The first known use of coloratura was circa 1740

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Last Updated

23 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Coloratura.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Apr. 2020.

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How to pronounce coloratura (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of coloratura

: a style of singing usually in opera that contains a lot of high notes sung very fast
: a singer who is able to perform this type of music

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