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Spanish musical play consisting of spoken dialogue, songs, choruses, and dances. Zarzuela originated in the 1650s as an aristocratic entertainment, the first being performed at the royal residence of La Zarzuela near Madrid. The principal early composer was Juan Hidalgo (1614–85); early librettists included Lope de Vega and Pedro Calderón de la Barca. As Italian opera rose in popularity in the 18th century, the zarzuela adopted aspects of opera seria style but suffered a decline. It was revived c. 1840 as a satirical treatment of everyday life incorporating folk music, dance, and improvisation. Since 1940 few new works have been written.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on zarzuela, visit Britannica.com.