Definition of opera seria in US English:

opera seria


  • 1An opera (especially one of the 18th century in Italian) on a serious, usually classical or mythological theme.

    • ‘Two further commissions for Milan followed, the wedding serenata Ascanio in Alba in 1771 and Lucio Silla, a magnificent opera seria, in 1772.’
    • ‘I still fail to grasp how the sight of ancient Cretans dressed as bewigged eighteenth-century courtiers brings us closer to Mozart's noble opera seria, but never mind.’
    • ‘Puccini's Tosca is on Friday and Mozart's opera seria, Idomeneo, is on Saturday.’
    • ‘She repeats the trick in the similarly tempestuous arias Combattuta da due venti, from Faramondo, and the angry central section of Deidamia's M'ai resa infelice, in Handel's last opera seria.’
    • ‘All this provides a reminder that this is an opera seria, with all its baroque associations.’
    • ‘Silla, the opera seria here recorded, was one of the earliest Handel created after settling in London, though oddly enough the circumstances of its first performance are obscure.’
    • ‘We can presume that when he sang the title role, Savage had a light, lyric baritone; a type of voice that we don't really see in Handel's opera seria.’
    • ‘Convention prevented a bass like Montagnana from playing a heroic role in an opera seria, which only goes to show how remarkable William Savage's presence in Imeneo really was.’
    • ‘Hopefully this short miscellany gives some idea of the personalities and musical strengths of four of these singers; an indication of the varied characters that Handel worked with in his opera seria.’
    1. 1.1 Opera seria as a genre.
      • ‘He scored an immediate triumph with Rinaldo, which was written to an Italian text in the manner of Italian opera seria, a convention with which he never really broke in his work for the secular stage.’
      • ‘Perhaps it is that the concerns of the genre are so antithetical to opera lovers living after Wagner, but late opera seria like those of Mozart do not receive many performances.’
      • ‘In fact, it is a mark of the acceptance of opera seria that it is increasingly possible for companies to mount productions without the need for too many specialist singers.’
      • ‘Up to then opera seria was a series of set pieces which teed-up everything for the big solo arias.’
      • ‘When opera seria fell into oblivion, many fine composers dedicated to it were almost totally forgotten, whereas Handel survived because of the multiplicity of his gifts.’
      • ‘In sweeping tableaux, Bellotto oscillates between these schemes, much as if he were a maestro, here of opera seria, there of buffa.’
      • ‘But her voice type was one that is important in Handelian opera seria.’
      • ‘Realistically, such roles are part of the stock in trade of opera seria and we cannot read too much in to it.’
      • ‘From the late seventeenth century the central male operatic role (primo uomo) in opera seria was sung by a castrato.’
      • ‘Young singers can require a great deal of help in Handelian opera seria as they have to spend rather a long time doing nothing but looking interesting.’
      • ‘They made a fine case for this tricky opera and we came away heartened to have heard such stylish, Handelian singing and commitment to opera seria.’
      • ‘The satirical treatment of London's low life appealed to a wider social range than the aristocratic opera seria, and the following decades spawned many short English works.’
      • ‘But the conventions of opera seria required a happy ending.’
      • ‘The music of oratorios and passions, concerned with religious themes and unsupported by the panoply of court theatre and scenery, appealed much more directly to the emotions than opera seria.’
      • ‘But this is opera seria, and amid such clever diversions, this Royal Academy Poppea had real weight too.’
      • ‘One of the last original musical genres to appear in Italy, the comic opera poked fun at the opera seria and its austere rules, while giving new publicity to music among the masses.’
      • ‘Charming, disarming, and, especially in Laura's arias, where we were reminded that Cimarosa was considered as a master of opera seria also, often rather more than that.’


Italian, literally ‘serious opera’.


opera seria

/ˈōpeˌrä ˈserēˌä/