Does the word “extravagance” only have negative connotations?

Case in point:

In his opera Rigoletto, Giuseppe Verdi really goes to town showing off his prodigious melodic gift. Themes, lines, full-fledged melodies: he does not economize. He just throws them right and left, all original, all unique, never repeating. The brief intro to Act Two is a melodic jewel, and yet all it does is convey to the audience a bit of tension: Verdi just leaves it there, never developing it later.

I would call it melodic extravagance – if it weren’t for the fact that the word extravagant always comes off as negative to some degree these days.

If I’m wrong, please say so. If I’m right, is there a better word for it?


What I’m trying to convey here is that Verdi was generous with his gift. As in, “Hey, you want more melodies? Here, take another dozen.”

Melodic generosity comes to mind. The only problem is, it could easily be misinterpreted … uh … misconstrued.


I think you could probably wrangle extravagance to not be perceived as negative, but it will be hard. You’re right that it does often carry at least mild overtones of negativity and judgment. However, extravaganza, a closely related word which could work here does not. So you could say:

A melodic extravaganza.

Extravaganza is defined by the online Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

Definition of extravaganza

1: a lavish or spectacular show or event

2: something extravagant

3: a literary or musical work marked by extreme freedom of style and structure and usually by elements of burlesque or parody

Note how the third definition given is very close to what you’re after, albeit without the element of parody. Also note how the definition of extravaganza lacks the negative connotations implied in the same dictionary’s definition of extravagant:

Definition of extravagant

  1. a: exceeding the limits of reason or necessity
    extravagant claims
    b: lacking in moderation, balance, and restraint
    extravagant praise
    c: extremely or excessively elaborate
    an extravagant display
  2. extremely or unreasonably high in price
    an extravagant purchase

  3. a: spending much more than necessary
    has always been extravagant with her money

  4. a archaic : WANDERING
    b obsolete : STRANGE, CURIOUS

Source : Link , Question Author : Ricky , Answer Author : terdon

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