Operetta is one of the many genres of performance arts that has a very close relationship with opera in terms of both theme and music sequences. Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate between operetta and opera. The term was used for the first time to describe opera stage performances that were shorter and less ambitious efforts during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Operettas have since then maintained a very strong influence in the western culture.
They are very readily available to mass audiences and are extremely enjoyable. This style of music has lately brought about profound influences to Broadway music, which originated in New York. Broadway music has even outstripped operas and operettas in terms of popularity throughout the world.
In a typical operetta, some of the libretto has to be spoken and not sung. Singers are given an opportunity for dialogue which marks the transitory point between a musical number and the other. During these dialogues, there is no form of accompaniment. Sometimes quiet musical themes may be used to enrich the background. In some operettas, recitative styles are used. These styles flow in a rhythm that appears to be with equal range to both spoken and sung text.
Many people consider operettas to be not as serious as operas. This is because their plots are often comic in nature. Topical satire also dominates this music genre. Sometimes this is true in the case of opera as well. This is especially the case in France when opera performers used codes to make intrinsic political statements. Robert le Diable is a good example of a character that represented a parental conflict involving the king of France.
Operetta is recognized by many people as a precursor to music comedy of the modern era. Although it continues to exist along other newer forms, it has been receiving influences to the other forms that bear close semblance to it. The distinction between newer forms of opera and operetta can only be ascertained if one is wary of the ambiguity that always comes in the way of making distinctions between these distinct music performance forms.
Operettas are often described only as light operas that are dominated by scenes that involve acting whereas musicals are more or less defined as plays that are dominated by acts that involve singing. Another way to look at the distinctions is paying attention to the performers that are always chosen to perform in both genres of music. Most of the operetta singers are performers who have been training in classical forms of opera music.
Basically, the only thing that differentiates opera from operetta is the lightness of themes and the fact that there are very many dialogue segments that come in between numbers. A musical is typically made up of actors who only sing but in a style that is different from the one that operatic performers use. In musicals, performers usually dance something that rarely happens in operettas.