Definition of opera

 (Entry 1 of 2)

plural of opus


op·​era | \ ˈä-p(ə-)rə How to pronounce opera (audio) , Southern also ˈä-prē \

Definition of opera (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a drama set to music and made up of vocal pieces with orchestral accompaniment and orchestral overtures (see overture entry 1 sense 2) and interludes (see interlude sense 2) specifically : grand opera Beethoven composed only one opera.
2 : the score (see score entry 1 sense 6) of a musical drama The composer finished the opera in just six weeks.
3 : the performance of an opera The opera was delayed a half hour due to technical difficulties. also : a house where operas are performed We'll meet you at the opera at 7 p.m.

Examples of opera in a Sentence

Noun I am going to an opera tonight.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Kirschenbaum grew up in Brooklyn and became an opera enthusiast after her previous obsession, the Brooklyn Dodgers, decamped for Los Angeles in the late 1950s. New York Times, "Opera’s Biggest Fan Leaves Behind a Sprawling Time Capsule," 23 Apr. 2021 Yet Said inhabited a bubble of affluent cosmopolitans, speaking English and French better than Arabic, and attending the local opera. Pankaj Mishra, The New Yorker, "The Reorientations of Edward Said," 19 Apr. 2021 Like Pershall, Fons saw all of her concert and opera work evaporate last year when the pandemic arrived. San Diego Union-Tribune, "‘The Barber of Seville’ gets a trimmed-down, pandemic-friendly San Diego Opera production," 18 Apr. 2021 There have been no chances for touring musicals or opera concerts with everyone forced to stay home in this public health crisis. Sahi Padmanabhan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wauwatosa native Lissa deGuzman finds new opportunities to perform through Open Arts," 16 Apr. 2021 The Awakenings series brings partners from around the community together to explore the connections of opera's themes to our society. Kathryn Gregory, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky Opera announces its 2021-22 season. Here's your complete guide," 14 Apr. 2021 Pierre wanted specifically to increase that slope to add more verticality to the movie-going experience to mimic the feeling of Italian opera houses. Benny Har-even, Forbes, "Why Oma Cinema Could Be The Perfect Post-Pandemic Cinema Experience," 11 Apr. 2021 Vocal and choral music will not be performed due to the higher risk of aerosol transmission, meaning opera is off the table. BostonGlobe.com, "Tanglewood’s 2021 season looks almost normal," 8 Apr. 2021 Ben and his wife, Nancy, also championed opera in Orlando; Nancy was a president of the Opera Guild of Orlando. Matthew J. Palm, orlandosentinel.com, "Family’s blue-and-white legacy will brighten Morse Museum," 5 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'opera.' 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 opera


1848, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for opera


borrowed from Italian, "work, labor, artistic production, drama set to music (originally short for opera musicale, opera in musica)," going back to Latin, "activity, effort, attention, work," collective derivative from oper-, opus "work, effort, product of labor" — more at opus

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Cite this Entry

“Opera.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opera. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for opera



English Language Learners Definition of opera

: a kind of performance in which actors sing all or most of the words of a play with music performed by an orchestra
: a show in which opera is performed
: a group of actors who perform operas together


op·​era | \ ˈä-pə-rə How to pronounce opera (audio) , ˈä-prə \

Kids Definition of opera

: a play in which the entire text is sung with orchestral accompaniment

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