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(1) A short play or scene (pantomime, dance, or musical or instrumental work), often comic, performed between the acts of a dramatic production. Intermedia arose in the medieval theater in the presentations of mystery plays and were widely used in school theaters (in Western Russia), commedia dell’arte, Molière’s theater, and other productions. In Spain the intermedium, called paso, developed as an independent genre of public theater, most popularized by Lopa de Rueda and particularly M. Cervantes. In England it was called an “interlude,” and in Portugal “entremés.”
Intermedia appeared in Russia in the presentations of school religious plays in the 16th century. In the 19th and 20th centuries they were transformed into independent small scenes with singing and dancing, and in this form became part of Soviet theater as well—for example, in the production of Turandot by C. Gozzi at the Vakhtangov Theater in Moscow.
Intermedia also existed as numbers or scenes inserted between acts of opera or ballet. In the 15th century they were incorporated into the musical theater in Italy, and later in England, France, and other countries. Gradually the intermedia were transformed into works with independent plots, often attracting more attention from the audience than the main presentation. In Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries intermedia assumed the character of short operas; often they were inserted between acts of opera seria, which highlighted their comic character. Per-golesi’s opera La Serva Padrona, a cornerstone of Italian comic opera and a great influence on the formation of French opéra comique, was originally the intermedium in his opera Il Pri-gionier Superbo (1733).
(2) An intervening episode between the various presentations of the theme in a fugue; also called an interlude.