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Singspiel ("song-play") is a form of German-language music drama, similar to modern musical theater, though it is also referred to as a type of operetta or opera. It is characterized by spoken dialogue, sometimes performed over music, interspersed with ensembles, popular songs, ballads or arias (which were often folk-like and strophic in nature).

The first Singspiel were probably translations of English ballad operas from the late 18th century. French comic operas (Opéra comique) were also frequently transcribed into the German, as well. Singspiel was considered popular entertainment, and was usually performed by traveling troupes, rather than by established companies within metropolitan centers.

Singspiel plots are generally comic or romantic in nature, and frequently include elements of magic, fantastical creatures, and comically exaggerated characterizations of good and evil. While tragedy was a less frequent motif, it should be noted that most of the Singspiel that are still part of the modern operatic canon were those written on more serious themes, such as Ludwig van Beethoven's Fidelio, or Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischütz [1]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart touched the genre under an imperial commission for the New National Theatre in Vienna with Die Entführung aus dem Serail in 1782. He continued to write in the genre, with works such as Zaide, Der Schauspieldirektor and Die Zauberflöte, although some argue that because it incorporates a significant number of elements from various other musical and dramatic genres, it is a work that defies such a clear-cut classification.[2]

Singspiel is considered the predecessor of German romantic opera, and many of the genre’s composers, such as Beethoven and Weber, paved the way to the more complex operatic style associated with Wagner, Richard Strauss and others. As a result of this evolution, however, Singspiel itself had become basically obsolete by the end of the 19th century. Other than for a handful of works, most of the genre is generally not considered to be part of the modern classical canon.

To a certain extent, a more recent spingspiel could be the preschool series "Wonder Pets" on Nick Jr..


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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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