Techniques | Singspiel | Classical Era | Opera

The Singspiel was a German form of opera in which songs and other music alternated with dialogue. Although the Singspiel originated in the seventeenth century, the term was not generally used until the eighteenth. Croesus (1711) by Reinhard Keiser (1674–1739) was an early example of Singspiel. Towards the middle of the eighteenth century, other forms of opera – the French opéra comique and the English ballad opera – exerted their influence on Singspiel so that it developed into a type of comic opera with spoken words.

One of the most eminent Singspiel composers was Johann Adam Hiller (1728–1804), who helped establish the German national form of the genre, and another was the Czech Georg Benda (1722–95), who was based in Berlin. Opéra comique provided Singspiel with its lyrical, comic and sentimental content and promoted its use of folk harmonies and rhythms. By contrast, in Vienna, the Singspiel developed in a rather different way, absorbing the lively melodies of opera buffa, with plenty of sharp wit and farce to spice up the action. For example, Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail (‘The Abduction from the Seraglio’, 1782) was written as a Viennese-style Singspiel with the folk element represented by its Turkish flavour.

Styles & Forms | Classical Era | Opera
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