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Comic Opera

  • By: Alexander Carpenter
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Comedy has been an essential element of opera since its advent at the beginning of the 17th century. While early Italian court operas were tragedies, they would quickly begin to incorporate comic characters and comic scenes; these, along with concomitant musical developments that facilitated comic timing and delivery, proved overwhelmingly popular to audiences of all types. Subgenres of comic opera eventually developed all over Europe, flourishing especially in the latter half of the 18th century. The gravitas of 19th-century Romanticism and the advent of the high seriousness of early-20th century modernism lessened the prevalence and import of comic opera; by the mid-20th century, the musical comedy had taken its place.

While one of the precursors of opera is the so-called madrigal comedy of the late Italian ...

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