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

Noun I am going to an opera tonight.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One of the country’s most important and wide-ranging arts figures, Miller had a decades-long career that encompassed theater, television and opera. Washington Post, "Director, Beyond the Fringe star Jonathan Miller dies at 85," 27 Nov. 2019 Ginsburg, an opera fan, has for years helped organize the musical programs, which are now twice-yearly events that bring in such big-name performers as cellist Yo-Yo Ma and soprano Denyce Graves. BostonGlobe.com, "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was released from the hospital Sunday, is at the US Supreme Court Monday to attend a scheduled musical program there, a spokeswoman said.," 26 Nov. 2019 Kanye West will present an opera titled Nebuchadnezzar at the Hollywood Bowl next Sunday (Nov. 24). Ashley Iasimone, Billboard, "Kanye West Announces 'Nebuchadnezzar' Opera at the Hollywood Bowl," 17 Nov. 2019 It will be put to the test again after flood waters threatened the grand structure this week, possibly putting the upcoming opera season in doubt. Eric J. Lyman, Fortune, "After Record Floods, Venice Assesses the Damage and Braces for More Climate-Related Disasters," 14 Nov. 2019 Like a pop diva, an opera’s doomed maiden, or the grieving disciple of Magdalene’s title, Twigs knows that her pain isn’t ever simply her own. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "FKA Twigs Deconstructs the Private Show," 8 Nov. 2019 The play spent a brief stint on Broadway in 1971 before the author asked his friend Richard Auldon Clark, a Butler University music professor, to fashion it into an opera. Domenica Bongiovanni, Indianapolis Star, "5 things you can't miss when the new Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library opens," 8 Nov. 2019 That idea seems to have struck opera administrators all around the Bay Area at more or less the same time. SFChronicle.com, "‘Hansel and Gretel’ coming to opera houses," 5 Nov. 2019 World-renowned tenor performs selection of opera favorites from The Elixir of Love, Rigoletto, Lucia di Lammermoor and more. Luann Gibbs, Cincinnati.com, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: Oct. 28-Nov. 3," 28 Oct. 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

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The first known use of opera was in 1848

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Cite this Entry

“Opera.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opera?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=o&file=opus0002. Accessed 9 December 2019.

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More Definitions for opera


How to pronounce opera (audio)

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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