Rhyme of the Day

Various meanderings with a rhyme in there somewhere.

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Opera vs. Musical
Chicago's Lyric Opera, in recent seasons, has taken to including a Broadway musical in their season. This year it's "Carousel". I was amused to see that it was reviewed by their head theater critic, rather than their classical music critic. I guess that's logical.

But I'm not sure how perfectly logical the opera/operetta/musical distinction is. I see that there are differences among them as genres. But if you step back, they look awfully similar.

You string together a story
while singing for glory.

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In opera, the libretto is a platform for music, and the lyrical meaning is secondary to the melodic expression. The singing style tends to be far less character-specific, and reflect classical aesthetics of a pure tone and rich vibrato. (Even when you understand the language in question, intelligibility isn't a priority.) An opera singer tends to be musician first, actor second, and matching the personality or even physicality of the character is often subordinated to vocal ability.

In musical theater, the music and lyrics are typically important to the plot, and the singing more crafted towards expressing the personalities of particular characters. Intelligibility of lyrics is usually a priority. There's also much more an emphasis on dancing and blocking than in opera, which tends to be static. Performers tend to be actors who sing, rather than the other way around. Casting is more discriminating from the standpoint of matching characters.

Further distinctions can be made between Lyric Opera, Grand Opera (with ballet interlude), and Operetta (comic). These distinctions were refined in nineteenth century Paris.

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