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What Opera Isn't

What makes opera different from a Broadway musical?

Apart from predating musicals by 400 years or so, operas generally feature fuller, more sophisticated orchestration. Furthermore, there are no amplification devices in opera. Every note is played or sung live.

And while many opera buffs call Turandot's famed tenor aria "Nessun dorma" ("No one sleeps") a hit tune, not many Broadway performers would attempt to sing its vocally challenging high B.

Still, can't musicals such as Phantom of the Opera, which is sung all the way through - like most (but not all) operas - be called an opera?

Often there is no clear "yes" or "no," even with through-sung works. The only real answer may lie in the intent of the composer. Because Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote Phantom for the world of musical theater, it's considered a musical.

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Photo Credit

Die Walk├╝re, 1991 © Gary Smith photo