One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The leading female singer or role in a comic opera, especially in the 18th-century Italian opera buffa. Now chiefly historical.
Late 18th century; earliest use found in Charles Burney (1726–1814), musician and author. From Italian prima buffa leading female singer or role in a comic opera (although this is apparently first attested later: 1825 or earlier) from prima, feminine of primo first + buffa comic actress, feminine form corresponding to buffo.
prima buffa/ˌpriːmə ˈbuːfə//ˌpriːmə ˈbʊfə/
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