Definition of overture in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈəʊvətj(ʊ)ə/


1An orchestral piece at the beginning of an opera, play, etc. the overture to Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’ Overture and Incidental Music for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
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  • The adaptation of music for a medium different from that for which it was originally composed, for example the recasting of a song as a piano piece, or of an orchestral overture as an organ piece.
  • He spent more time with the orchestra, with the overture in the beginning of the show than the whole block of the show.
  • The playing of the woodwind section at the beginning of the overture was well balanced and finely tuned, revealing the experience and ability of the players.
prelude, introduction, opening, introductory movement, voluntary
rare verset
1.1An independent orchestral composition in one movement: Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’
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  • Like Wagner's overture, this movement is a Romantic ode to Classical counterpoint, and one at times seems to hear actual Wagner themes peeking out from behind the curtain.
  • Tchaikovsky composed his most famous overture to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Russia's victory over Napoleon's French army in 1812.
  • A familiar Rossini overture (The Silken Ladder) presented that composer's usual challenges, which were tackled with precision.
2An introduction to something more substantial: the talks were no more than an overture to a long debate
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  • Those complex overtures done with, I followed up all gung-ho with an enquiry as to when the piece was required.
  • Its overture is taken up with the analogy between the king of the nation and the father of the nuclear family that is beginning to supersede the extended family of earlier centuries.
  • As in all those movies, the demonstration is an overture to how that newly introduced power will explode narrative, characters, bodies.
preliminary, prelude, curtain-raiser, introduction, lead-in, precursor, forerunner, harbinger, herald, start, beginning
informal opener
3 (usually overtures) An approach or proposal made to someone with the aim of opening negotiations or establishing a relationship: he began making overtures to British merchant banks
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  • Meanwhile, another ‘sport’ is making overtures to join the Olympics.
  • The president is making overtures to Mexican immigrants and planning a manned mission to Mars.
  • Her young daughter is soon making overtures to the man, who wants to rob the women blind.
opening move, conciliatory move, move, approach, advances, feeler, signal, proposal, proposition, pass, offer, tender, suggestion


Late Middle English (in the sense 'aperture'): from Old French, from Latin apertura 'aperture'.

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Line breaks: over|ture

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