"Is this just a bugy program or is something more troubling happening in the background?"
i would start by asking you, is anything else running slow or suspiciously damaged other than opera?
uninstall opera and then install it again.. see if that works.. might be the easy fix..
or even better..
i would uninstall opera and install mozilla firefox 3.5 .. to me it is the most stable and secure browser i have used..
get antivir from http://www.avira.com
and install the personal edition.. also maybe grab the rootkit remover tool that avira offers also for free..
then get something like malwarebytes from http://www.malwarebytes.com
install that do a scan, and scan with antivir also update both before you scan, and from there you might find something right away..
maybe do a defrag of your harddrive also if you haven't for a LONG time.. start with that.. then if you still feel you are possibly infected, then start another thread because as of right now, it just seems as though your opera installation is wacked.