I. Some Definitions of Opera

The Oxford English Dictionary defines opera as "a dramatic performance in which music forms an essential part, consisting of recitatives, arias, and choruses, with orchestral accompaniment and scenery."

In comparison, a drama is "a composition in prose or verse, adapted to be acted upon a stage, in which a story is related by means of dialogue and action, and is represented with accompanying gesture, costume, and scenery, as in real life."

At its simplest level, an opera is "a sung play" or a drama set to music. The fundamental components of an opera are the libretto, the written text or script to be sung, and the score, the musical text to be played by an orchestra in accompaniment to the libretto.

Information from The International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians, 11th Edition, edited by Oscar Thompson; Dodd, Mead & Co., NY, 1985; "Opera," 1536-56.

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This site created by Jessica K. McShan on December 17, 1997.