Definition of oratorio in English:



  • A large-scale, usually narrative musical work for orchestra and voices, typically on a sacred theme, performed without costume, scenery, or action. Well-known examples include Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Handel's Messiah, and Haydn's The Creation.

    • ‘Born in Edinburgh, he was a violinist, conductor and teacher whose compositions included operas, oratorios, songs, concertos, chamber and orchestral works.’
    • ‘He also performed numerous songs, oratorios and cantatas.’
    • ‘She has performed in many operas, operettas, musicals and oratorios.’
    • ‘In fact, the work as a whole is more on the scale of an oratorio like Handel's Messiah than of any typical jazz recording.’
    • ‘He was also influential in introducing Handel's oratorios to the Boston public.’


Italian, from ecclesiastical Latin oratorium oratory, from the musical services held in the church of the Oratory of St Philip Neri in Rome.