ROME — Italian opera singing has been added to the United Nations’ (UN) cultural heritage list, a prestigious accolade for the four-centuries-old art mixing costume drama and music.

US culture agency UNESCO said on Wednesday it had included opera under its category of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which already features other famed Italian practices such as pizza-making.

Italian opera developed around the late 1500s and early 1600s in Florence, at the court of the Medici family. It typically involves intricate plots, elaborate staging, and virtuoso singing.

Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano hailed the UNESCO move hours before it was formalized.

“This is something historic… a great recognition of bel canto (beautiful singing) opera in the UNESCO intangible heritage list and we must be proud of it,” he said on RAI public radio. — Reuters