noun. op•er•a. a play in which most or all of the words are sung, and the music helps tell the story
Like a movie or a play, an opera combines acting, sets, and costumes. What makes an opera different is that the story is told with music and singing instead of just talking. The first operas were written over 400 years ago—but new operas are composed and performed every year!
Understanding opera is not as difficult as you may think. There are people singing masterfully without microphones, often in a different language, but the stories of most operas are universal. They are usually about familiar themes such as love and envy.
Operas can be any length, too. Some of the longest operas are over 5 hours long (such as Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung). One of the shortest operas is only 8 minutes (L'Enlèvement d'Europe by Darius Milhaud)!