One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An actress or other female performer playing a lively, flirtatious role in a play or opera.
- ‘Swanilda is a soubrette role, but it requires a dancer with the authority of a ballerina.’
- ‘The soubrette of the piece, Musetta, is supposed to offer comic relief to the central tragic affair.’
- ‘For example, we hear how she treats Rosina and Norina as intelligent soubrettes - she squeals and giggles her way through both roles delightfully.’
- ‘She has looks, a voice and that ageless soubrette pertness - the total musical comedy package.’
- ‘While she has a broad repertoire, her infectious exuberance and natural athleticism give her a distinctive edge in leotard ballets and soubrette parts.’
Mid 18th century: French, from Provençal soubreto, feminine of soubret ‘coy’, from sobrar, from Latin superare ‘be above’.
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