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

Everything is walk-able: a ballgame at Petco Park, the opera at the Civic Center, the symphony at Symphony Hall or Embarcadero Park South, the huge variety of restaurants and clubs from East Village to Little Italy and points between. Lisa Deaderick, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Leading a local council to teach people about the world around them," 14 July 2018 Others include Ronnie James Dio, the former Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Dio frontman, and rocker Frank Zappa, R&B/pop superstar Whitney Houston and opera star Maria Callas. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "He's been dead for 30 years. But he's coming in concert to South Florida," 10 July 2018 Tony winner Anika Noni Rose makes a dazzling return to the New York musical stage in John Doyle's revival of the 1940s update by Oscar Hammerstein II of Georges Bizet's opera. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Carmen Jones': Theater Review," 28 June 2018 On serpentwithfeet’s debut album, soil, Wise displayed a voice with stunning range and unpredictable pathways echoing his love of opera. Shaun Brady, Philly.com, "This University of the Arts grad has a pentagram tattooed on his face. He's also one of the most inventive singers working today," 25 June 2018 Riccardo Muti has yet to lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a concert performance of any Rossini opera. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "Muti leads CSO and Chorus in stirring season finale, Rossini's Stabat Mater," 22 June 2018 That’s the Broadway version of the celebrated rock opera about a deaf, dumb and blind boy who sure plays a mean pinball. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Seven Angels Annouces 2018-19 Season; CT Rep Casts 'Superstar'," 20 June 2018 This major festival brings together the best of opera, classical music, world music, theater, dance, art, and multimedia performances at venues throughout the city. Andrea Whittle, Condé Nast Traveler, "What to Do in Amsterdam in June 2018," 29 May 2018 Officials have encouraged a revival of regional forms of Chinese opera, performed in their original languages. The Economist, "China is becoming more tolerant of some regional Han languages," 17 May 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

Phrases Related to opera

the 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).


an open space surrounded by woods

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!