Why do foreigners say “Bravo” when they applaud?

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Surely all Italians will have noticed that foreigners often shout “bravo” at the end of a concert or some show.

And surely those who are not Italian will know that this word comes from Italian…

But have you ever wondered where this habit comes from? Apparently it is a custom that has spread with Italian opera.

As you know, the famous lyric music originated in Italy, in Florence, between the 16th and 17th centuries.

In the Baroque age, the Opera had a very strong diffusion, especially in the cities of Rome and Venice. These were shows initially aimed at the courts and therefore intended for an elite of intellectuals and aristocrats.

There are many Italian composers of Operas, among whom we certainly cannot fail to mention Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi, Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini.

But back to the word “bravo”.

Foreign viewers of Italian operas, to express their satisfaction, towards the singers, have learned this word.

Probably after having listened to it during some performances in Italy and have begun to use it too during the applause, after a successful air.

This custom has been spreading worldwide, expanding to other contexts, such as concerts, plays and entertainment shows, up to the present day.

In fact, the word “bravo” has become part of many foreign vocabularies.
For example in the English dictionary the definition is this:

  1. (used in praising a performer).

What happens is that for us Italians the word “bravo” is an adjective and therefore, as such, agrees with the word to which it refers.

So in Italy, we say “bravo” to a man and “brava” to a woman and so also in the plural (“bravi”, “brave”).

We see the definition in the Italian dictionary:
Bravo agg.
to. Skilled, expert, capable in his art or profession; and in general, of those who succeed well in something.

b. Frequent as a voice of approval, of applause (especially in the theater or in other public shows).