A diverting form of musical entertainment still closely associated with Vienna, operettas are frequently performed in quarters such as the “People’s Opera” (Volksoper). Their composers were some of the most famous names in the history of popular music, the transplanted Hungarians Franz Lehár and Emmerich Kálmán (1882–1953), Oskar Strauss (1870–1954), and Johann Strauss, the “Waltz King.” Based on models from France, where the genre had a large following, the latter Strauss’s effervescent Die Fledermaus captures the spirit of the entire genre.
   Operetta came to Vienna only around 1870. It quickly attracted a large segment of a general public that was turning away from musical forms and settings, (e.g., churches), and even the popular comedy of the 18th and 19th centuries. Operettas abound in tuneful melodies; plots focus on the joys, complications, and disappointments of love. Couples quarrel bitterly for one reason or another in the second act, and reconcile blissfully in the third. What they sing can be sexually very suggestive. Productions almost always include much spoken dialogue, a feature that once distinguished them from grand opera and proscribed them from stages where high musical culture ruled. Elaborate, even exotic costuming and scenery added to their audience appeal. That operettas were intended to amuse helped a lot, too. Frivolous though operetta characters may often be, their scores call for rich-voiced singers and plausible actors. Not every opera star can successfully negotiate the crossover to operetta.
   The operetta played a crucial role in the development of the 20thcentury musical theater, especially in the United States. Operetta has found its way to grand opera stages today in the United States, even as the style falls out of favor in Europe. Die Fledermaus, along with Lehár’s The Merry Widow, have near classical status in such American houses as the Metropolitan Opera and the City Opera in New York.
   See also Film; Theater.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • operetta — /ope ret:a/ s.f. [dim. di opera ]. (mus.) [genere di teatro musicale di carattere leggero e sentimentale, in cui si alternano canto, dialoghi, danza e scene corali] ▶◀ ‖ opera (lirica), vaudeville, zarzuela. ▲ Locuz. prep.: fig., da operetta… …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • operetta — light opera, 1775, from It. operetta, dim. of OPERA (Cf. opera) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Operetta — Op er*et ta, n. [It., dim. of opera.] (Mus.) A short, light, musical drama. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • operetta — ит. [опэрэ/тта], англ. [опэрэ/тэ] opérette фр. [опэрэ/т] Operette нем. [опэрэ/тэ] оперетта …   Словарь иностранных музыкальных терминов

  • operetta — ► NOUN ▪ a short opera on a light or humorous theme. ORIGIN Italian, little opera …   English terms dictionary

  • operetta — [äp΄ə ret′ə] n. [It, dim. of opera,OPERA1] a light, amusing opera with spoken dialogue …   English World dictionary

  • Operetta — The audience at the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, the birthplace of Offenbach s operettas (1860) Operetta is a genre of light opera, light in terms both of music and subject matter. It is also closely related, in English language works, to forms …   Wikipedia

  • operetta — operettist, n. /op euh ret euh/, n. a short opera, usually of a light and amusing character. [1760 70; < It, dim. of opera OPERA1] * * * Musical drama similar to opera, usually with a romantically sentimental plot, employing songs, dances, and… …   Universalium

  • operetta —    The term operetta derives from French, German, and Italian sources, but in common usage it suggests a small or light opera. In America, operetta gained popularity when Jacques Offenbach s opéra bouffe works first appeared in the 1860s and, in… …   The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater

  • operetta — o·pe·rét·ta s.f. 1. dim. → opera 2. TS mus. genere di teatro musicale, di argomento leggero, nato nella seconda metà dell 800, in cui brani cantati si alternano a danze e a scene interamente recitate: un operetta di J. Strauss, assistere, andare… …   Dizionario italiano

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