The last few days we have focused our attention on operas sung in Italian. Did opera exist in other languages at this point in history? Certainly! Today, let’s look at a few examples of opera in neighboring nations and see how they compare to what we have seen so far.
Comic opera sung in French was known as opera comique. Early in the century, opera comique pulled selections from popular tunes of the time. After Italian opera styles began growing in prominence, however, opera comique gradually began adding newly-written arias. Unlike opera buffa, this type of comic opera uses spoken dialogue rather than recitative.
In England, the common type of opera at that time was known as ballad opera. This type of opera was sung in English and, like opera comique, used spoken dialogue in place of recitative. It also set new words to old tunes that people would recognize as folk songs or dances of that region.
Singspiel is the term used to describe opera in Germany at that time. These operas often used a comic plot and, like the other opera types we’ve looked at today, consisted of spoken dialogue alternating with musical sections. Be sure to check back later this month for a great Singspiel example from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!