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 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

Vittoriano Rastelli/Corbis/CBS Films In opera, people spend a lot of time saying relatively little. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "Pavarotti Captured the Sublime and Vulgar Sides of Opera," 3 June 2019 Now Ithaca’s annual Porchfest has grown into a six-hour extravaganza featuring 180 acts as varied as string bands, opera singers, hip-hop groups, and Indonesian gamelan ensembles. Melody Warnick, Woman's Day, "These Small-Town Heroes Are Helping Their Communities Thrive," 2 Apr. 2019 Time passed quickly and without notice as orchestra and singers soared, for the first time since 1933, through what may be the greatest love story in all opera. Zachary Lewis, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Orchestra brews potent concoction with concert account of 'Tristan and Isolde' (review)," 23 Apr. 2018 There is a line in the famous opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. Don Sweeney, sacbee, "In Provo, Utah, man proposes to girlfriend from back of polce car | The Sacramento Bee," 15 Feb. 2018 Following performances in the opera, with the Israeli Consulate and the National Yiddish Theatre, Fishman went on to become a cantor. Marvin Glassman, Jewish Journal, "Boca synagogue's dinner dance to celebrate Israel's 70th birthday," 1 Feb. 2018 Singers from the Milan opera doubled as the event staff, and staged mini performances throughout the meal. Tamara Abraham, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Epic Lake Como Wedding Had It All: An Alta Moda Photoshoot, Fireworks, and a Surprise Opera," 11 Apr. 2019 The soprano has been making waves in the opera world, garnering critical acclaim in New York, Los Angeles and around the world. Patrick Neas, kansascity, "New JCCC series season: Emmylou Harris, Lisa Loeb, Postmodern Jukebox, OK Go | The Kansas City Star," 20 Apr. 2018 Lachlan likes to describe their gender journey as a three-part opera. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Everything You Need To Know About "CAOS" Star Lachlan Watson," 12 Apr. 2019

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 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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More from Merriam-Webster on opera

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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