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12 - Opera in England

from Part III - National Traditions (outside Italy)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 December 2022

Jacqueline Waeber
Affiliation:
Duke University, North Carolina
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Summary

How might we define English opera in the seventeenth century? Whole books have been written on this topic, and because of the variable terminology with which seventeenth-century writers labelled their works (‘opera’, ‘dramatick opera’, ‘masque’, ‘comedy’, ‘tragedy’), it is unlikely that absolute clarity will ever be had.1 Indeed, the English had a capacious and fluid notion of what constituted opera during the seventeenth century, and we should adjust our overly narrow definitions if we are to understand English opera as people in the seventeenth century did: as a genre that sometimes was fully sung, but, more often than not, included spoken dialogue.2

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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