Difference Between Opera and Musical

Opera vs Musical

Musicals and Operas are two classic art forms that are theatrical in nature and have many similarities between them. Music is the backbone of both theater art forms and often the performances are so mesmerizing that the audiences are lost in the musical world of these theaters. People who are not aware of the nuances of musical and opera remain confused between the two and cannot appreciate the differences. Despite looking similar, especially to a layman, there are some differences between musical and opera that will be highlighted in this article.

What is a Musical?

If you have heard a lot about a Broadway musical but did not know what it is, it is a type of play that makes heavy use of songs and music to tell its story. Musicals are light-hearted comedies in general though there are also musicals with serious themes. In a musical, there are dialogues with interspersed songs. However, there are some like Les Miserables, Joseph, Chess, etc. that are almost like operas with story moving forward through songs only. In such instances, the musicals are referred to as popular operas to contrast them with the classical form of operas. The main singers in a musical are also seen dancing which is a characteristic feature of this art form.

What is an Opera?

Opera is a kind of theater that makes use of singing and dancing to perform the story in front of an audience. There is an orchestra to accompany the performers. An opera is a musical tradition that consists of musicians, singers and dancers who take the centre stage and communicate a story to the audience by singing and dancing alone. There are plots such as treachery, revenge, greed, passion, etc. that dominate operas but instead of text dialogues, emotions are expressed in the form of songs and dances in an opera. If you have ever been to an opera, you know how enchanting and mesmerizing it can be even without the regular dose of dialogues as is the case with dramas. Whether romance, tragedy or comedy, all human emotions are expressed beautifully in an opera without uttering a dialogue. There is everything from sets to props to costumes to background music in an opera. The only thing missing are the dialogues.

What is the difference between Musical and Opera?

• Musical has often been compared with opera, but it is different as it emphasizes on dialogues to convey the story with lots of songs and dances that are interspersed in between, whereas operas are pure musicals as they do not have any dialogues and artists communicate the entire story through songs and dances.

• While a performer in opera is a singer or dancer only, the performer in a musical is an actor who can also sign or dance.

• Musicals are mostly comical in nature with a light hearted humor being a dominant theme whereas operas can have any possible theme from comedy to tragedy to suspense to thrill.

• Opera is much older musical tradition than musical and Italian and French operas are popular all over the world.

• In the opera, music is the driver of the story whereas it is acting and dialogues that drive the story forward in a musical.