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drama set to music. Characteristics
The libretto may be serious or comic, although neither form necessarily excludes elements of the other. Opera differs from operetta in its musical complexity and usually in its subject matter.
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a variety of comic opera with spoken dialogue, popular in 18th-century Germany and Austria.
In northern Germany the Singspiel was influenced by the English ballad opera, particularly The Beggars’ Opera. It is generally regarded as having its beginnings with The Devil to Pay (1752), the German adaptation of the ballad opera, with music by J. C. Standfuss. It contained a series of simple songs (in couplets) close to folk tradition. The Singspiele of the poet C. Weisse and the composer J. Hiller were enormously successful, including Lottchen am Hofe, 1767. Other composers include J. Benda, C. G. Neefe, and J. Reichardt; J. W. Goethe wrote librettos for the Singspiel.
In Austria the Singspiel was influenced by the Austrian folk comedy, the Italian opera buffa, and the French opéra comique. It contained longer arias and ensembles than the German Singspiel. I. Umlauff was the founder of the Austrian comic opera and his Singspiel The Miners was performed in 1778 at the opening of the imperial National Opera Theater in Vienna. K. von Dittersdorf, W. Mu’ller, and others composed Singspiele, but it was Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio (1782) and The Magic Flute (1791) that made the greatest contribution to the development of the Austrian Singspiel. The traditions of Singspiel led to the German romantic opera of the first half of the 19th century and to the Viennese operetta.
REFERENCESSchletterer, H. M. Das deutsche Singspiel von seinen ersten Anfängen bis auf die neueste Zeit. Augsburg, 1863.
Calmus, G. Die ersten deutschen Singspiele von Standfuss und Hiller. Leipzig, 1908.
B. V. LEVIK