A problem I have with that statement, is that it just is not right. As seen in the example from Die Zauberflöte, there is significant dialogue around the song. Conversely, many musicals are sung though, many works of Andrew Lloyd Webber, for example. There are more musicals, such as Elisabeth and Tanz Der Vampire, which have small patches of dialogue, yet are scored through, in that they have constant music playing, even under the dialogue.
Exactly. Les Misérables
and Miss Saigon
are other examples of sung through musicals, and Die Zauberflöte
is certainly not the only opera with spoken dialogue -- Carmen
springs to mind, along with The Tales of Hoffmann
and Der Freischütz
. I'm sure we could go on for both musicals and operas that defy the "musicals = dialogue / operas = sung through" rule.
Also, not all opera plots are "dramatic" in the sense of "opposite to comedy". Take The Marriage of Figaro
, The Barber of Seville
-- all of these are undeniably comedies, and undeniably operas. I think operettas tend
to be on the more frivolous side, though ... Figaro
especially, despite being a comedy, has some real moments of pathos in between the (many!) laughs.
I think one clear difference is the vocal technique used in each category. A "music theatre sound" resonates in a more forward space than an "operatic sound". Of course, you wouldn't use the same MT technique in Show Boat
as you would in Next to Normal
, but then again, you can't use the same operatic technique in Orfeo
as you would in Madame Butterfly
. It's a question of what is stylistically correct for each individual work depending on the composer's intentions.
Then there are other stylistic/performance conventions ... like belting is unique to music theatre, and singing without microphones is unique to opera. (Not saying that musicals can't be performed without microphones, but no one seems to think it's wrong
if they are. On the other hand, perform an opera with microphones ... unless it's an outdoor venue or some huge arena thing, people will kick up a fuss.)
I'll have more to say on this, I'm sure
Please do! I'd be very interested in going into more depth on this topic!