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

Many of these accompaniments present bland or sweet tastes that calm down your mouth — little silences in the opera of jerk. Rand Richards Cooper, courant.com, "Review: Saz Jamaican Restaurant, Newington," 10 July 2019 The company’s five resident studio artists are top emerging talents in opera today. Michelle Martin, Detroit Free Press, "Enjoy free lakeside outdoor concerts and family movies at SummerFest 2019," 10 July 2019 But Cohen was determined to pursue a career in opera. Washington Post, "A high-voiced rising star at 25," 2 July 2019 Not, however, for acting, but for a decade of sensational productions in opera, theatre and film. The Economist, "Obituary: Franco Zeffirelli died on June 15th," 21 June 2019 In the 1950s and ’60s, Franco Zeffirelli made his name with magnificent stage productions of operas like La Traviata, La Bohème and Aida. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "The Lavish Lens of Franco Zeffirelli," 20 June 2019 This year, besides celebrating the 150th anniversary of the opera house, the Wiener Staatsoper also marked the centenary of that opera with a starry new production. Larry Wolff, The New York Review of Books, "A Resonant Centenary for Strauss at the Vienna State Opera," 13 June 2019 Two of this year's operas are at The Toby theater at Newfields. Domenica Bongiovanni, Indianapolis Star, "A womanizing scoundrel and a love potion are characters in Indianapolis Opera's new season," 6 June 2019 Perez invested Marguerite’s music with ravishing delicacy and grace, and had no trouble summoning full-toned intensity for the character’s emotionally fraught scenes later in the opera. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "Splendid cast gives Gounod his due in muddled 'Faust' at Lyric Opera," 4 Mar. 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 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

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