music drama

noun
an opera having more or less continuous musical and dramatic activity without arias, recitatives, or ensembles.
Compare number opera.


Origin:
1875–80

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World English Dictionary
music drama
 
n
1.  an opera in which the musical and dramatic elements are of equal importance and strongly interfused
2.  the genre of such operas
 
[C19: translation of German Musikdrama, coined by Wagner to describe his later operas]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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music drama

type of serious musical theatre, first advanced by Richard Wagner in his book Oper und Drama (1850-51; "Opera and Drama"), that was originally referred to as simply "drama." (Wagner himself never used the term music drama, which was later used by his successors and by critics and scholars.) This new type of work was intended as a return to the Greek drama as Wagner understood it-the public expression of national human aspirations in symbolic form by enacting racial myths and using music for the full expression of the dramatic action. Wagner's emphasis on opera as drama merely resumed and developed the ideas of Claudio Monteverdi and Christoph Gluck. He envisaged the disappearance of the old type of opera, with its libretto provided by a hack versifier, as an opportunity for the composer to make a "set piece" opera out of purely musical forms separated by a recitative.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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