Operetta is light opera...or opera light. Its goal is to amuse: to be witty, charming, funny, not serious either in style or substance. Operetta includes lots of spoken dialogue and eye-catching dance numbers, and the musical material is usually appealing, tuneful…uncomplicated.
The kinds of profound emotional expression and subtle characterizations that you’d find in regular opera are beside the point: we’re not particularly expected to believe in operetta characters or to identify with them. And along with lots of sentimental and syrupy romance, operetta often includes large doses of parody, social satire, and farce. The heyday of operetta was the nineteenth century, and the greatest operetta composers were Jacques Offenbach, in Paris, Johann Strauss, Jr., in Vienna, and Sir Arthur Sullivan – that’s Sullivan as in Gilbert and Sullivan – in London.
A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.