We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Operetta?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Musical Expert is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Musical Expert, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An operetta is a light opera in which not all words are sung — i.e., there is spoken dialogue — and which may also include dance. Operettas are usually shorter than operas, and are often comic. The form evolved in Paris, and its origins are connected with the works of Jacques Offenbach in the 1850’s. For a time it was among the most popular forms of musical entertainment.

Because it includes spoken dialogue, a strong libretto is essential. The main librettist for Offenbach’s operettas was Ludovic Halévy, who was one of the librettists for Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Halévy and Hecto - Jonathan Crémieux wrote the libretto for Orphée aux enfers — in English, Orpheus in the Underworld — the best-known of Offenbach’s operettas, especially the famous cancan. Originally produced in 1858 it was revised and re-released in 1874.

In Austria, the work of Johann Strauss, Jr. was important in the development of the operetta. His third operetta, Die Fledermaus, The Bat in English — which had a libretto based on a work by Halévy and Henri Meilhac — proved to be an enduring success after opening in the same year as Offenbach’s revised Orpheus; 1874. Der Zigeunerbaron, The Gypsy Baron in English, with a libretto by Ignaz Schnitzer, has also had lasting popularity since its first production in 1885.

Besides Halévy, the other notable operetta librettist was the Englishman Sir William Schwenck Gilbert. Working with his countryman Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan in a pairing that has made the cognomen Gilbert and Sullivan famous worldwide, they created fourteen operettas, eleven of which were first performed in the 1870’s and 1880’s and are still frequently produced in the twenty-first century.

In the early twentieth century, Die Lustige Witwe, The Merry Widow in English, composed by Franz Lehár with a libretto that was based on a work by Mielhac was the composer’s first broad success, as well as a commercially successful venture. It premiered in 1905.

The differences between the operetta and the musical are not universally agreed upon. The operetta is more associated with Europe, while the musical is closely tied to the United States. The musical is considered to be an offshoot of the entertainment called musical comedy rather than operetta. Both use the elements of sung and spoken words, as well as dance, to entertain audiences.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for Musical Expert, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By Fristepha — On Dec 22, 2013
I’ve never been a big fan of regular operas (they’ve always seemed a little too intense and I often get lost in their very confusing plots); however, there is something about operettas that I really like. They just seem more approachable. I highly recommend giving operettas a chance, especially if you’ve found operas to be a little too much. I recently found Gilbert and Sullivan and fell in love with "Pirates of Penzance" (how did I not know about this show?). Could any other operetta-philes give some recommendations based on my new found love of Gilbert and Sullivan?
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
Learn more
Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.