Entertainment Music What is the difference between opera and oratorio? Share PINTEREST Email Print Music Classical Music Operas Basics Lyrics Rock Music Pop Music Alternative Music Country Music Folk Music Rap & Hip Hop Rhythm & Blues World Music Punk Music Heavy Metal Jazz Latin Music Oldies Learn More By Aaron Green Music Expert B.A., Classical Music and Opera, Westminster Choir College of Rider University Aaron M. Green is an expert on classical music and music history, with more than 10 years of both solo and ensemble performance experience. our editorial process Aaron Green Updated March 17, 2017 Question: What is the difference between opera and oratorio? Answer: New Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians defines oratorio as “an extended musical setting of a sacred text made up of dramatic, narrative and contemplative elements.” Unlike opera, oratorios are never staged. Howard E. Smither: 'Oratorio', Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 30 July 2004), <http://www.grovemusic.com> Opera FAQ Index What is opera? Where did opera originate? What was the first opera? What is a libretto? What is opera seria? What is opera buffa? What is the shortest opera? What is the longest opera? What is the most performed opera? What is the difference between opera and oratorio? Should I familiarize myself with the opera I'm about to see before I see it?