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“Opera” is a musical theater form that originated at about the turn of the 17th century in Italy. An early composer of opera was Claudio Monteverdi. Early works used mythological subjects for the plot lines, and relied on the virtuosity of the singers to carry the action. Beginning with Mozart at the end of the 18th century, opera began taking advantage of its ability to convey tremendous emotional impact, and plots became less stylized and more humanly believable. This is why Mozart's operas are among the oldest of the ones most commonly performed, a group called the “standard repertoire.”