Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A theatrical presentation in which a dramatic performance is set to music.
  • n. The score of such a work.
  • n. A theater designed primarily for operas.
  • n. A plural of opus.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A theatrical work combining drama, music, song and sometimes dance.
  • n. The score for such a work.
  • n. A building designed for the performance of such works; an opera house.
  • n. A company dedicated to performing such works.
  • n. Any showy, melodramatic or unrealistic production resembing an opera.
  • n. A collection of work (plural of opus).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A drama, either tragic or comic, of which music forms an essential part; a drama wholly or mostly sung, consisting of recitative, arias, choruses, duets, trios, etc., with orchestral accompaniment, preludes, and interludes, together with appropriate costumes, scenery, and action; a lyric drama.
  • n. The score of a musical drama, either written or in print; a play set to music.
  • n. The house where operas are exhibited.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A form of extended dramatic composition in which music is an essential and predominant factor; a musical drama, or a drama in music. ; ; ;
  • n. The score or words of a musical drama, either printed or in manuscript; a libretto.
  • n. A theater where operas are performed; an opera-house.
  • n. The administration, revenue, and property of an Italian church or parish.
  • n. Specifically, a ballad-opera (see def. 1).
  • n. Plural of opus.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a commercial browser
  • n. a drama set to music; consists of singing with orchestral accompaniment and an orchestral overture and interludes
  • n. a building where musical dramas are performed

Etymologies

Italian, work, opera, from Latin, work, service; see op- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Italian opera. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Are poets a waste? Opera!

    October 18, 2008

  • When I taught music in Australian high schools for a time (1994–95) my students tended to refer to all classical music as "opera".

    I found this fascinating and probed numerous individual students in an attempt to find out why, but never really reached a satisfying conclusion.

    October 7, 2008

  • The Onion Historical Archives (not really) has an article about this.

    October 7, 2008