genre of comic opera originating in Naples in the mid-18th century. It developed from the intermezzi, or interludes, performed between the acts of serious operas. Opera buffa plots centre on two groups of characters: a comic group of male and female personages and a pair (or more) of lovers. The dialogue is sung. The operatic finale, a long, formally organized conclusion to an opera act, including all principal personages, developed in opera buffa. The earliest opera buffa still regularly performed is Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's La serva padrona (1733; The Maid as Mistress). Opera buffa is distinct from French opera-bouffe, a general term for any light opera.
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