Definition of opera

 (Entry 1 of 2)

plural of opus


op·​era | \ ˈä-p(ə-)rə, 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 3) 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


I am going to an opera tonight.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

One was an opera about Muammar al-Qaddafi, the Libyan dictator, and Poots needed advice. Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, "Inside The Shed, Manhattan's New State-of-the-Art Cultural Venue," 12 Dec. 2018 Although this opera ends at detonation, the atomic story is still being written. Paul Ross, Popular Mechanics, "I Am Become Opera: An Atomic Show In the Shadow of Los Alamos," 27 July 2018 As others, including stylists Ann Caruso and Micaela Erlanger, surveyed the setting, a harpist and opera singer provided grandiose entertainment for a refined punctuation on the evening. Vogue, "Hotel Vivier Lands in New York and Opens in Style," 13 Dec. 2018 Since 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries: of heads of state, opera singers, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing and the namer of the Slinky. Essence.com, "The New York Times Is Finally Giving Ida B. Wells Her Due," 8 Mar. 2018 Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin are known for their dazzling and meticulously researched work on films like Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet and a daring 2002 Broadway staging of the opera La Bohème. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "Inside Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin's Elegantly Theatrical New York Townhouse," 5 Nov. 2018 The rest of the invitations were reportedly sent out last week to the close friends and family of Prince Charles, and guests can look forward to an evening of music, opera, ballet and Shakespearean drama. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Will Miss Prince Charles' Birthday Celebrations for Their Trip to Australia," 17 Sep. 2018 Habanera’ and ‘Toreador Song’ are very familiar tunes from the opera. Jen Banowetz, Naperville Sun, "DuPage Symphony Orchestra brings audience on a musical trip to Spain," 7 June 2018 Selections from operas performed by vocal students from Cleveland Institute of Music with Mary Schiller, head of the CIM Voice Department, as Commentator. Mark Rapp, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Arts listings for April 6-12: "Cleveland's Endearing Symnbol: 52 stories of the Terminal Tower" at the Galleries at CSU & More," 5 Apr. 2018

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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Time Traveler for opera

The first known use of opera was in 1848

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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, ˈä-prə\

Kids Definition of opera

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on opera

Spanish Central: Translation of opera

Nglish: Translation of opera for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of opera for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about opera

Comments on opera

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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