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melodrama

melodrama [Gr.,=song-drama], originally a spoken text with musical background, as in Greek drama. The form was popular in the 18th cent., when its composers included Georg Benda, J. J. Rousseau, and W. A. Mozart, among others. Modern examples of the true music melodrama are found in Richard Strauss's setting of Tennyson's Enoch Arden, and in Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire. J. J. Rousseau's melodrama Pygmalion (1762; first performed 1770) helped create a vogue for stage plays in which the action was generally romantic, full of violent action, and often characterized by the final triumph of virtue. The common use of the term melodrama refers to sentimental stage plays of this sort. The leading authors of melodramas in the early 19th cent. were Guilbert de Pixérécourt of France and the German August von Kotzebue. The term was used extensively in England in the 19th cent. as a device to circumvent the law that limited legitimate plays to certain theaters. One of the most-popular of theatrical genres in 19th. cent England and America, its "tear-jerking" style easily made the transition to film, radio and television, where they are represented by the maudlin excesses and unbelievable coincidences of contemporary soap operas. The term is now applied to all scripts with overdrawn characterizations, smashing climaxes, and appeal to sentiment. Famous examples of stage melodramas include East Lynne by Mrs. Henry Wood and Ten Nights in a Barroom by W. W. Pratt.

See D. Gerould, ed., Melodrama (1980).

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melodrama

melodrama. Dramatic comp., or part of play or opera, in which words are recited to a mus. commentary. Popularized late in 18th cent. Where one or two actors are involved, ‘monodrama’ or ‘duodrama’ is term used. J. A. Benda's Ariadne auf Naxos (1774) and Medea (1775) are early examples. Mozart used melodramatic monologues in Zaide (1780). Fibich wrote a trilogy Hippodamia (1888–91). Famous operatic examples occur in the dungeon scene of Fidelio, the Wolf's Glen in Der Freischütz, Gertrude's aria in Marschner's Hans Heiling, the Empress in Act III of Die Frau ohne Schatten, and in Peter Grimes. Other examples are R. Strauss's Enoch Arden (1898), Honegger's Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher (1935), Bliss's Morning Heroes (1930), and Vaughan Williams's An Oxford Elegy (1949). The word has also come to mean an over-dramatic play, hence the adjective ‘melodramatic’, but in a musical connotation the orig. meaning is conveyed.

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melodrama

mel·o·dra·ma / ˈmeləˌdrämə/ • n. 1. a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions. ∎  the genre of drama of this type. ∎  language, behavior, or events that resemble drama of this kind: what little is known of his early life is cloaked in melodrama. 2. hist. a play interspersed with songs and orchestral music accompanying the action. DERIVATIVES: mel·o·dram·a·tist / ˌmeləˈdrämətist/ n. mel·o·dram·a·tize / ˌmeləˈdräməˌtīz/ v.

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melodrama

melodrama originally, a stage-play (typically romantic and sensational in plot and incident) with songs interspersed and action accompanied by appropriate orchestral music. As the musical element ceased to be regarded as essential, the word came to mean a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions.

Recorded from the early 19th century, the word comes via French from Greek melos ‘music’ 7plus; French drame ‘drama’.

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melodrama

melodrama (orig.) stage play with appropriate music; (later) sensational play with a happy ending. XIX. alt. (after drama) of earlier melodrame — F. mélodrame, f. Gr. mélos song; see next and DRAMA.
Hence melodramatic XIX.

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melodrama

melodrama Theatrical form originating in late 18th-century France, and achieving its greatest popularity during the following century. It relied on simple, violent plots in which virtue was finally rewarded.

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melodramma

melodramma (It.). 17th-cent. term for opera. Nothing to do with melodrama.

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melodrama

melodramaAlabama, clamour (US clamor), crammer, gamma, glamour (US glamor), gnamma, grammar, hammer, jammer, lamber, mamma, rammer, shammer, slammer, stammer, yammer •Padma • magma • drachma •Alma, halma, Palma •Cranmer • asthma • mahatma •miasma, plasma •jackhammer • sledgehammer •yellowhammer • windjammer •flimflammer • programmer •amah, armour (US armor), Atacama, Brahma, Bramah, charmer, cyclorama, dharma, diorama, disarmer, drama, embalmer, farmer, Kama, karma, lama, llama, Matsuyama, panorama, Parma, pranayama, Rama, Samar, Surinamer, Vasco da Gama, Yama, Yokohama •snake-charmer • docudrama •melodrama •contemner, dilemma, Emma, emmer, Jemma, lemma, maremma, stemma, tremor •Elmer, Selma, Thelma, Velma •Mesmer •claimer, defamer, framer, proclaimer, Shema, tamer

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