Whenever I talk to people about opera there are myriad questions about what it is or why I enjoy it, but the common thread is that people don’t understand how to talk about it. Here take 10 common terms in opera down to their basic meanings.
LIBRETTO / LIBRETTIST
This is nothing more than the text of the opera and the person who wrote it; much like the play and the playwright.
Quite simply, a solo in musical form. Very similar to a monologue in theatrical terms, and usually repetitive.
A secondary character
An extra, not unlike a movie extra, or a character who does not speak in a play. Also commonly referred to as “super”.
OPERA BUFFA / OPERA SERIA
Think comedy (buffa) and tragedy (seria)
A woman in a man’s role; usually as a young boy.
Literally the “first lady” or female star of an opera. It has negative connotations because of pop culture.
All of the characters an opera singer has played/sung and in his or her vocal range.
Essentially a sing (read) through rehearsal with an orchestra. No acting is involved (unless the singer chooses to).
BONUS: TOI TOI TOI!
If you hear your opera friends say that, it basically means “Break a leg!”