Definition of buffo in English:



  • A comic actor in Italian opera or a person resembling such an actor.

    • ‘Joel Katz played the buffo Sacristan with humour, and the required nervous tics so meticulously notated in Puccini's score.’
    • ‘Donald Maxwell is a seasoned operatic buffo, who nicely cherishes, relishes and polishes his pontificating arias, with chorus usually dancing attendance.’
    • ‘English buffo Ian Wallace lacks the ripeness and buzz of the best Italian buffos, but the voice is substantial enough and his mastery of the text is never in doubt; his expertise shows through particularly during the "Gioa pace!" scene.’


  • Of or typical of Italian comic opera.

    ‘a buffo character’
    • ‘The smaller parts are done with professional polish, and I must mention Salvatore Baccaloni in the little role of Doctor Grenvil, because he would continue on to become a buffo star at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1940s.’
    • ‘By now, it should come as no surprise that Juan Diego Flórez is the ideal Rossini tenor, combining youthful charm with florid razzle-dazzle, or that Ferruccio Furlanetto (Mustafà) and Earle Patriarco are masters of the buffo idiom.’
    • ‘Those Mozart parts are known as buffo roles, written for the semi-comic character singers of Mozart's companies, rather than noble, heroic leading men.’
    • ‘Finally, Saskia Willaert writes in some details about the buffo opera singer and the repertory of Italian opera in London.’
    • ‘After this quintessence of the buffo style, La Cenerentola, while not lacking in comic situations, is more sentimentally inclined, and in the remaining years of his Italian career Rossini produced no comedy at all.’


Mid 18th century: Italian, puff of wind, buffoon from buffare to puff of imitative origin.