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opera1

[op-er-uh, op-ruh]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. an extended dramatic composition, in which all parts are sung to instrumental accompaniment, that usually includes arias, choruses, and recitatives, and that sometimes includes ballet.Compare comic opera, grand opera.
  2. the form or branch of musical and dramatic art represented by such compositions.
  3. the score or the words of such a composition.
  4. a performance of one: to go to the opera.
  5. (sometimes initial capital letter) an opera house or resident company: the Paris Opera.

Origin of opera1

1635–45; < Italian: work, opera < Latin, plural of opus service, work, a work, opus

opera2

[oh-per-uh, op-er-uh]
noun Chiefly Music.
  1. a plural of opus.

opus

[oh-puh s]
noun, plural o·pus·es or especially for 1, 2, o·pe·ra [oh-per-uh, op-er-uh] /ˈoʊ pər ə, ˈɒp ər ə/.
  1. a musical composition.
  2. one of the compositions of a composer, usually numbered according to the order of publication.
  3. a literary work or composition, as a book: Have you read her latest opus? Abbreviation: op.

Origin of opus

1695–1705; < Latin: work, labor, a work
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for opera

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It was the night you and the folks went to the opera with the Oldakers.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • (§ 11), likens Plautine drama to "an opera of the early schools."

    The Dramatic Values in Plautus

    Wilton Wallace Blancke

  • I gained nothing; the Opera gives me my best chance to see and be seen.

  • Sing by all means; but, if you must have immediate results, not in opera.

  • In any case, it was evident that Italian opera was a precarious enterprise.

    Handel

    Edward J. Dent


British Dictionary definitions for opera

opera1

noun
  1. an extended dramatic work in which music constitutes a dominating feature, either consisting of separate recitatives, arias, and choruses, or having a continuous musical structure
  2. the branch of music or drama represented by such works
  3. the score, libretto, etc, of an opera
  4. a theatre where opera is performed

Word Origin

C17: via Italian from Latin: work, a work, plural of opus work

opera2

noun
  1. a plural of opus

opus

noun plural opuses or opera (ˈɒpərə)
  1. an artistic composition, esp a musical work
  2. (often capital) (usually followed by a number) a musical composition by a particular composer, generally catalogued in order of publicationBeethoven's opus 61 is his violin concerto
Abbreviation: op.

Word Origin

C18: from Latin: a work; compare Sanskrit apas work
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for opera

n.

"a drama sung" [Klein], 1640s, from Italian opera, literally "a work, labor, composition," from Latin opera "work, effort" (Latin plural regarded as feminine singular), secondary (abstract) noun from operari "to work," from opus (genitive operis) "a work" (see opus). Defined in "Elson's Music Dictionary" as, "a form of musical composition evolved shortly before 1600, by some enthusiastic Florentine amateurs who sought to bring back the Greek plays to the modern stage."

No good opera plot can be sensible. ... People do not sing when they are feeling sensible. [W.H. Auden, 1961]

As a branch of dramatic art, it is attested from 1759. First record of opera glass "small binoculars for use at the theater" is from 1738. Soap opera is first recorded 1939, as a disparaging reference to daytime radio dramas sponsored by soap manufacturers.

opus

n.

"a work, composition," especially a musical one, 1809, from Latin opus "a work, labor, exertion" (source of Italian opera, French oeuvre, Spanish obra), from PIE root *op- (Germanic *ob-) "to work, produce in abundance," originally of agriculture later extended to religious acts (cf. Sanskrit apas- "work, religious act;" Avestan hvapah- "good deed;" Old High German uoben "to start work, to practice, to honor;" German üben "to exercise, practice;" Dutch oefenen, Old Norse æfa, Danish øve "to exercise, practice;" Old English æfnan "to perform, work, do," afol "power"). The plural, seldom used as such, is opera.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

opera in Culture

opera

A musical drama that is totally or mostly sung. Aïda, Carmen, and Don Giovanni are some celebrated operas. A light, comic opera is often called an operetta.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.