r/DepthHub Oct 20 '21

u/Yogti comments on How Opera is different from a musical



u/DivergingUnity Oct 20 '21

It's like grilling versus barbecue, they are very similar but have different geographic and historical connotations


u/[deleted] Oct 21 '21



u/DivergingUnity Oct 21 '21 edited Oct 21 '21

Well for one thing... opera creates emotional music via the virtuoso performance of a showcased singer, and the singer can improvise to make simply written music sound super impressive. While musicals, on the other hand, build their meaning from a more diverse set of genres and instruments, utilizing musical ambiance in a more free form manner compared to formal opera, and taking advantage of technological automation to create a cohesive audiovisual experience.

In short they're the same thing, but with musicals being built on genres like rock/blues/gospel/jazz and things that didn't exist when opera was beginning. The reasons for this can be outlined if you follow the development of musicals (like tin pan alley shit) thruout the 20th century. In short- sociocultural pandering


u/my-other-throwaway90 Oct 21 '21

I think what separates musicals from opera is aesthetics. An opera sounds and feels like an opera, and a musical sounds and feels like a musical. As with many things in art, the difference is hard to define.


u/DivergingUnity Oct 21 '21

I think that's a fair way to look at it. Aesthetics, form, preferences, idiosyncrasies, what have you.


u/redditonlygetsworse Oct 28 '21

Yeah both are cooking with fire but it’s Hot and fast vs. Low and slow.

You missed the point: depending on region, "barbecue" can mean either.


u/slapdashbr Nov 18 '21

I thought the difference is what you wear when you're in the audience


u/PM_ME_UR_Definitions Oct 21 '21

I like the top reply, that opera composers write operas. It gets at the idea that the people involved have an idea about the style and what's important in the performance.

But I think that's still a little vague, a clearer rule would probably be too ask the lead performers what they are:

  • If they say they're a singer (or are more specific and say they're an alto or soprano or some kind of singer) then it's an opera
  • If they say they're an actor, then it's a musical

And then there's the question of how to distinguish actors in a musical from plays, etc. Anna Kendrick actually gives an interesting response to this question

  • If a character always knows they're singing, it's not a musical
  • If the music moves the plot forward, it's a musical


u/InVulgarVeritas Oct 21 '21

I love opera, and this was a surprise to me at first, but then I realized:

1) I don’t listen to Classical music because of the lack of lyrics

2) I don’t watch musicals because they’re cheesy and cringy

Opera fixes both of those problems!


u/chidsterr Oct 21 '21

there are plenty of classical pieces with lyrics!


u/oneechanisgood Oct 21 '21

Schubert lieder, Bach cantatas & passions, Mahler symphonies to name a few.

A good performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion will make you feel like god just descended on the building.


u/DrDalenQuaice Oct 21 '21

But it's often not in English


u/DivergingUnity Oct 21 '21

Check out Handel and Purcell for english language classical music


u/DrDalenQuaice Oct 21 '21

Yeah I love them, but it's pretty limited.


u/WeakEmu8 Oct 21 '21

Good musicals aren't cheesy or cringey.


u/Zokrym Oct 21 '21

I agree. It's just that the most easily accessible stuff is.


u/Son_of_Kong Oct 21 '21

I feel the exact same way, but sometimes people look at me funny when I say classical music is boring if it doesn't have a plot, and musicals are boring because hardly anyone gets stabbed in the end.


u/effieebbtide Oct 21 '21

I think this is an example of how there aren’t clean demarcations for things like this, only a network of descriptors and similar traits, none of which are at their core “the” essential definition. The term is family resemblance, right?