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opera: [countable] a company that performs opera; a building in which operas are performed

We've got this rule:

We only use the with general plural nouns when we are referring to a specific set within a general class of people or things.

Books are so important in my life. (I mean all books in general.)

The books were all over the floor. (I mean specific books that you and I know).

By applying this rule, we got

"I love to go to operas" (I mean all operas in general.)

But we've also got this rule

When we talk in general about inventions, musical instruments or cultural institutions (such as the cinema, the theatre, the circus, the opera, the ballet), we often use the:

The computer must be the greatest invention ever. (The computer as an invention in general, not a specific computer)

The violin sounds different to the viola.

I love a night at the opera.

So, "I love to go to the opera" (the opera as a cultural institution in general, not a specific cultural institution.)

So, What are the differences between "I love to go to the opera" or "I love to go to operas"?

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Disclaimer: This answer may sound classist, and I base it only on my limited experience with very wealthy people. I would say people who attend operas more frequently would be more likely to say "the opera" than people who may be equally enthusiastic about culture but who do not have as many opportunities to see operas.

I think there may also be a bit of extra pageantry implied in "going to the opera:" Loving going to operas sounds like one has enjoyed watching multiple shows that happen to involve singing and orchestras; loving going to the opera sounds like one enjoys getting dressed up, having an nice dinner, and rubbing elbows with other cosmopolitan aficionados of the arts (and also seeing an opera).

  • I was about to write a comment that the only difference I could see was that one was 6 words and the other 7. But you're right. Going to operas is about showing up at the events, even if what attracts you is something other than the performance. "The opera" is about the institution, which implies the performance. +1 – fixer1234 Jun 27 '17 at 2:34

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