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 While England and France and Russia and America were creating the 19th-century novel, Italy was pouring its creative energies into opera and poetry. New York Times, "Harold Bloom Is Dead. But His ‘Rage for Reading’ Is Undiminished.," 23 Jan. 2021 Brown has Washington experience, having brilliantly run the music and opera programs at the NEA. Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: How about some culture in the Biden Cabinet? My nominees for Mr. or Madame Secretary," 18 Jan. 2021 The changes come during a difficult period for opera in America. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, "Dallas Opera plans live spring performances in the Winspear Opera House — with big differences," 10 Dec. 2020 For Bynum, 40, flipping to opera does not feel like a major change of direction. Terry Blain Special To The Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Can opera still have an impact? That's literally this Minnesotan's job," 13 Oct. 2020 The Met’s closure earlier this year marked the first time in more than a century that New Yorkers have gone without access to the opera. Meena Thiruvengadam, Travel + Leisure, "NYC's Metropolitan Opera Won’t Reopen Until September 2021," 23 Sep. 2020 Music was a constant in the justice's life, beginning early on in Brooklyn when her aunt took her to the opera. CBS News, "Remembering RBG, a woman who lived a life defying expectations," 20 Sep. 2020 L’Espace was the scene of Juno and Avos, a Soviet rock opera that Mr. Cardin imported to Paris in 1983. New York Times, "Pierre Cardin, Designer to the Famous and Merchant to the Masses, Dies at 98," 29 Dec. 2020 The French composer Camille Saint-Saëns later turned one of these—Parysatis (1890), about the queen of ancient Persia—into an opera with Jane providing the libretto. Rue Des Archives/album, History Magazine, "This French archaeologist broke the law—by wearing pants," 17 Dec. 2020

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 8 Mar. 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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