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 orchestral interludes interspersed with spoken dialogue.

The modern tradition begins with Jacques Offenbach, who wrote some 90 operettas and inspired a Viennese tradition that began with the works of Franz von Suppé and Johann Strauss. In Britain most of the 14 comic operettas (1871–96) of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan have been enduringly popular. In the U.S. the works of such European immigrant composers as Victor Herbert and Rudolf Friml were widely popular in the early 20th century. See also musical.

* * *

      musical-dramatic production similar in structure to a light opera but characteristically having a romantically sentimental plot interspersed with songs, orchestral music, and rather elaborate dancing scenes, along with spoken dialogue.

      The operetta originated in part with the tradition of popular theatrical genres such as the commedia dell'arte (commedia erudita) that flourished in Italy from the 16th to the 18th century, the vaudeville of France, and English ballad opera. In the 19th century the term operetta came to designate stage plays with music that were generally of a farcical and satiric nature. The most successful practitioner of this art was Jacques Offenbach (Offenbach, Jacques), whose Orphée aux enfers (1858; Orpheus in the Underworld) and La Belle Hélène (1864; “The Beautiful Helen”) used the guise of Greek mythology to express a satiric commentary on contemporary Parisian life and mores. In England, from the late 1870s, the team of W.S. Gilbert (Gilbert, Sir W.S.) and Arthur Sullivan (Sullivan, Sir Arthur), influenced by Offenbach's works, established their own part in the genre with a large body of works, the best-known of which include H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1879), The Mikado (1885), and Iolanthe (1882).

      In Vienna about 1870, Johann Strauss the Younger (Strauss, Johann, The Younger) was producing operettas of a more romantic and melodious type, such as Die Fledermaus (1874; The Bat), which in many respects reconciled the differences between operetta and opera. Toward the end of the 19th century, perhaps influenced by the gentler quality of Viennese operetta, the French style became more sentimental and less satiric, stressing elegance over parodic bite. Viennese successors to Strauss, such as Franz Lehár (Lehár, Franz) (Hungarian by birth), Oscar Straus (Straus, Oscar), and Leo Fall, and French composers such as André Messager (Messager, André) contributed to the evolution of operetta into what is now called musical comedy (see musical).

      The operetta traditions of Austria, France, Italy, and England began to wane in the early 20th century but found new life in the United States in the works of Reginald De Koven (De Koven, Reginald) (Robin Hood, 1890), John Philip Sousa (Sousa, John Philip) (El Capitan, 1896), Victor Herbert (Herbert, Victor) (Babes in Toyland, 1903), and Sigmund Romberg (Romberg, Sigmund) (The Student Prince, 1924; The Desert Song, 1926). In the United States the development of jazz accelerated the transition from operetta to musical comedy.

Additional Reading
Gerald Bordman, American Operetta: From H.M.S. Pinafore to Sweeney Todd (1981); James Harding, Folies de Paris: The Rise and Fall of French Operetta (1979); Janet L. Sturman, Zarzuela: Spanish Operetta, American Stage (2000); Richard Traubner, Operetta: A Theatrical History, rev. ed. (2003).

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

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 —    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 —    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… …   Historical dictionary of Austria

  • 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

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.