Definition of operetta in English:



  • A short opera, usually on a light or humorous theme and typically having spoken dialogue. Notable composers of operettas include Offenbach, Johann Strauss, Lehár, and Gilbert and Sullivan.

    • ‘She has performed in many operas, operettas, musicals and oratorios.’
    • ‘His repertoire on discs included excerpts from operas and operettas, popular songs, and later, songs from his films.’
    • ‘He continued to write operettas and finally realised his long-standing intention, to compose an Irish operetta.’
    • ‘This included a chapel, bedrooms, parlours, and a dining area together with a hall where operettas, plays and musicals are produced annually.’
    • ‘The Strauss operettas on the next two-CD set are even farther from what the composer intended.’
    • ‘Apart from the brilliant success of Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas, a true native style is difficult to identify.’
    • ‘Opera, operetta, oratorio, and song all are represented, both in English and in the original languages.’
    • ‘He produced not only popular operettas, but incidental music to plays and (according to the custom of the time) interpolations into other operas as well.’
    • ‘This concert featured two singers in solos and a few duets from operettas by Austrian and Hungarian composers.’
    • ‘It seems to confirm what we always suspected - that Austrian wine, like Strauss operettas, is frivolous and irresponsible and only for swigging by the jugful.’
    • ‘Starting with the semi-operas of the Restoration there have been several hundred reworkings of Shakespeare's plays into operas, operettas, and musicals.’
    • ‘Her early career was devoted to performing zarzuelas, the operettas of her homeland.’
    • ‘Atonal music, the Italian opera style, the operetta and the paintings of Impressionism are also Jewish.’
    • ‘The Pirates of Penzance is one of those enduring operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan, the subject matter of which doesn't matter a hoot.’
    • ‘In 1878 Aleko began his studies in Russia, and at the same time started to publish his first poems, and to write plays, compose music and a short operetta.’
    • ‘In many cases, well-qualified songs from musicals, operettas, vaudeville, and revues, as well as variety shows, music hall, and cafe concert, were recruited for use in cabarets.’
    • ‘He wrote songs, operas, and operettas, pantomimes, melodramas, and in 1823, a History of Music.’
    • ‘She played it to the hilt as an over-inebriated soprano trying to sing in an operetta.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, the English-language opera tradition evolved to incorporate operettas and musical theater.’
    • ‘And next year we are beginning a new departure, and that is to include operetta and musicals in every season, something I have always wanted to encourage.’


Late 18th century: from Italian, diminutive of opera (see opera).