Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text (libretto) and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. In traditional opera, singers do two types of singing: recitative, a speech-inflected style and arias, a more melodic style. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.
- No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.
- W. H. Auden, in TIME magazine (29 December 1961)
- An exotic and irrational entertainment, which has been always combated, and always has prevailed.
- Samuel Johnson, Lives of the English Poets (1779-81), "Hughes." (Of Italian opera.)