horse opera

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horse opera (plural horse operas)

  1. (idiomatic) A theatrical production, film, or program on radio or television depicting adventures of characters in the American Old West; a western.
    • 1952, "Way Out West," Time, 3 Nov.:
      Three new examples of Hollywood's staple commodity, the horse opera, all filmed in color, contain the full quota of galloping and gunplay.
    • 2017 July 7, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, “The Ambitious War For The Planet Of The Apes Ends Up Surrendering to Formula”, in The A.V. Club[1], archived from the original on 27 November 2017:
      It's in this horse-opera mode that War For The Planet Of The Apes finds its most rewarding rhythms: in the parallels between Caesar's woodland stronghold and the archetypal frontier settlements of Western fiction; []
  2. (idiomatic, archaic) An equestrian show, as in a circus.
    • 1856, "Affairs in California: San Francisco," New York Times, 31 Mar. (retrieved 30 Mar. 2009):
      The Ravels, after having played a successful engagement at the Metropolitan, closed last evening, and sail to-day for New-Orleans, and now we have no amusement but nigger minstrels and the horse operai.e., circus.
    • 1879, "On the Parisian Boards: Another of Jules Verne's Stories on the Stage," New York Times, 29 Jan. (retrieved 30 Mar. 2009):
      Nor is it much easier to give the analysis of this extraordinary odyssey, which relates the trials, sufferings, and adventures of an ex-Sous-Prefêt, who has married a circus rider, and has abandoned home, friends, and position, to become the manager of an itinerant horse-opera.