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

Through the early 1950s, the schedule was short and dominated by classical music, opera and ballet, with each season opened by an Easter sunrise service. Christopher Reynolds, latimes.com, "Sitting in the palm of nature: The unique energy — and performances — of Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre," 12 July 2018 In addition to hosting touring companies, the city’s symphony orchestra and opera and ballet companies all call it home. Richard Rubin, kansascity, "The New York Times came to KC and fell in love with the streetcar," 6 July 2018 The Pasadena resident who enjoyed collecting books and reading, was also a classical music, opera and ballet fan. Frederick N. Rasmussen, baltimoresun.com, "Gerald Fischman, Capital Gazette editoral writer, was known and respected for his sharp wit and command of facts," 6 July 2018 That gave me the opportunity to think about the opera and how to express it in physical space. Zoë Madonna, BostonGlobe.com, "Jamie Bernstein, her ‘Famous Father,’ and nothing to hide," 5 July 2018 The neighborhood’s pre-opera and symphony crowds flocked to Corridor. Justin Phillips, SFChronicle.com, "SF restaurants struggle for balance in prices, service as wage hike arrives," 29 June 2018 Schmitt will be singing songs in Hebrew and Yiddish and will team with Nugmanov in performing internationally known songs, including compositions in classical music and opera in the concert. Marvin Glassman, Jewish Journal, "Cantor, comics headline entertainment options in Palm Beach County," 22 June 2018 Carol also loved theater, opera and classical music, and enjoyed seeing many Broadway shows, as well as performances at the Yale Repertory Theater and Tanglewood. Hartford Courant, courant.com, "Carol R. Stone," 20 June 2018 Each year, the Maitland theater screens filmed performances from world-class opera and ballet companies. Matthew J. Palm, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Enzian screens ballet, opera in summer series," 9 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about opera

Statistics for opera

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for opera

The first known use of opera was in 1848

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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, ˈä-prə\

Kids Definition of opera

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up opera? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!