Comic opera

From ArticleWorld

When talking about Comic Opera there have been many bad definitions given. This is because of the confusion it can cause because of the two words being used: Opera and Comic. Both of them mean different things and this is why it is easy to make a mistake when providing a definition. The correct meaning comes from its origins. Comic Opera is a translation of the Italian “Opera Buffa” and it refers to a simple musical play that was offered in the past as an alternative to the serious and long “Opera Seria” in the 17th century.


The comic opera first appeared in Naples in the 17th century. The first such play was wirtten in 1718 by Alessandro Scarletti and was called “Il Trionfo dell'onore” (Honor's Triumph). In the beginning these types of entertainment were used as intermezzos during more serious and complex operas. Eventually, between 1750 and 1800 it became the most popular type of staged play in Italy and Verdi named one (“La Cecchina”) as the "first true Italian comic opera".


Many people mistake in categorizing some plays as being Comic Operas. This appears because of the improper translation of the French term “opera comique”. This names a performance that consists of singing and speaking. The Italian Opera is a good example of an opera that is only sung and a theatre play is an opera that is only spoken. This is why we can not define Comic Operas by referring to the French term. Other confusions appeared as time passed because of the constant evolution in operas. Nowadays we have terms that narrow down the classification like American Musical Comedy, Viennesse Operetta, American Operetta, English Operetta, Rock Opera, Italian Musical and many more. Although Comic Operas are not written any more they still are a part of history. Many musical genres, like the ones mentioned above, developed from it and provides a constant inspiration for composers.