Music has become an indispensable element of theatrical art since its inception in Ancient Greece in the 6th century. BC. According to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Greek tragedy was born from the spirit of music. Opera appeared in Italy at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. And in the middle of the 19th century, her frivolous "younger sister" - operetta, was born in France.
The homeland of theatrical art - Ancient Greece - did not know the division into musical and dramatic theater. The choir was an obligatory participant in performances in any of the genres that existed at that time - tragedy, comedy, satire drama. However, the ancient theater fell into decay already in the 4th century. BC, when the majestic tragedy of the 5th century. BC. replaced by everyday comedy. As a result of the invasion of wild barbarian tribes, which occurred in the 5th century. AD, along with the death of the ancient world, theatrical art also disappeared.
In 1573, a circle of highly educated musicians and writers appeared in Renaissance Italy, called the Florentine Camerata. Its participants embarked on a noble cause - the revival of the Greek tragedy. However, instead of recreating the oldest genre, they unexpectedly created a new one - opera.
Initially, the opera was subdivided into 2 main varieties - the opera-seria close to the tragedy and the frivolous opera-buffa (comic opera). In the 19th century, lyric opera appears and becomes dominant. This genre variety can be attributed to almost all the most outstanding works of opera art - "Rigoletto" and "La Traviata" by Giuseppe Verdi, "Carmen" by Georges Bizet, "Eugene Onegin" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and many others.
On the basis of comic opera in 1855, another genre of musical theater appeared in France - operetta (literally: a small opera). Its creator was the composer Jacques Offenbach. Surprisingly, the very first work of an unknown genre - "Orpheus in Hell" - immediately became a classic. A new chapter in the history of operetta was written by Austrian composers. Works such as The Bat and The Gypsy Baron by Johann Strauss, The Merry Widow by Ferenc Lehár, The Princess of the Czardás (Silva) and The Circus Princess by Imre Kalman still form the basis of the repertoire of operetta theaters.
Despite the fact that operetta is considered to be the "younger sister" of opera, these genres of musical theater differ significantly from each other. Opera is most often a musical and dramatic work, the action of which develops like such genres of dramatic theater as tragedy or drama. Operetta is akin to a musical comedy, although sometimes it contains elements of melodrama with an invariably happy ending.
In the opera, spoken dialogue is completely absent, complex vocal numbers are complemented by recitative - musical recitation. The operetta is based on a combination of vocal numbers and spoken dialogue. The opera has a more complex, detailed score. The operetta is based on popular melodies that are well understood by the viewer. An obligatory element of the operetta is a dance performed directly by the actors playing the main roles. In the opera, dance is present only as inserted ballet numbers. Opera and operetta are distinguished from drama theater by the dominant role of music.