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The operetta is commonly defined as "a theatrical performance consisting of an alternation of recited parts, sung parts and danced parts".

In the 17th and 18th centuries the term "operetta" was generally attributed to short and less pretentious performances than opera. Later, however, it was able to enhance itself until it was considered in the nineteenth century a real show in itself and no longer a "small opera".

Operetta, despite being the daughter of the French opéra comique and presenting boundaries that are not always easily definable with the latter, as well as with certain similar theatrical genres (from farce with singing to musicals), and also due to the fact that it is often distinguished with ambiguous designations in terms of characterization, despite everything, it has its own physiognomy that differentiates it from other similar or related theatrical forms.

How is the operetta structured?

Operetta is representational in nature, like theater in general. The composer therefore has the possibility of "telling" just like the narrator, making use of an extremely significant medium: music.

The music conditions the structure of the operetta, gives clues, replaces the spoken word, comments on the actions, envelops and helps to outline the characters and the story.
The music overlaps the verbal act produced by the characters, leaving the fiction of the stage and carrying the message of the composer.

The composer also has the possibility of describing the interiority of the characters themselves, discovering their intimate, unspeakable.

Precisely, to express an emotion in the character's psyche he often uses a solo instrument, while to characterize the character in general, he uses a specific piece of music. Reminiscences and leitmotifs are gladly present in the score. The reminiscences represent episodes preceding the work, and tend to recur each time in their full model, without notable changes. Conversely, leitmotifs symbolize people or abstract concepts, appearing in different forms each time.
The operetta is usually divided into three acts.

The first act presents the story and introduces the characters, the second act is the story in its evolution, with complications and unexpected events and the third act is the final solution of the story, sometimes with a very happy outcome.

There are four main actors: the tenor, the soprano, the soubrette and the buffo. They are sometimes joined by two secondary actors. All together they express themselves in trios, quartets, quintets, scattered throughout the three acts. Individually they sing a legend, an aria or, together, a song.

Each actor can enter the scene alone, in pairs or accompanied by the choir. The chorus is entrusted to the masses, i.e. the corps de ballet.

The ballads express the feelings shared by the majority of the characters, appearing mainly in the last two acts, and always after a long spoken part, as a commentary or characterizing function.

Operetta has had valid expression in many countries and, born brilliantly in France in the second half of the 19th century, found in the Viennese operetta one of the most admired and popular manifestations.

Even today, even if overwhelmed by the musical, it enjoys great favor and very wide popularity. In many countries there is a growing "comeback", it is represented with enthusiasm in Austria, Hungary, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, etc.
The fairy-tale world of operetta has always attracted all sorts of audiences, eager to have fun and escape from everyday reality and try their hand not only with the sublime peaks of "serious" music but also with that of "entertainment",

in a cheerful, comic and sentimental key, sometimes suffused with a soft melancholy.

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