One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A prima ballerina of outstanding excellence.
Late 19th century. Apparently from Italian prima ballerina assoluta (although this is apparently not recorded in dictionaries of Italian) from prima ballerina + assoluta, feminine of assoluto.
prima ballerina assoluta/ˌpriːmə ˌbaləˈriːnə(r) ˌasəˈl(j)uːtə/
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