Operetta in Greece

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Light musical theatre first appeared in Greece during the second half of the 19th century. Ever since its introduction, in the form of French operetta and vaudeville, it was fated to function as the bringer of new morals, to scandalize the immature nouveau-bourgeois society of Athens and to divide the public into “Europeanists” and “conservatives”. At the dawn of the 20th c., light musical theatre became established, having as its basic representative the Viennese operetta, which thrilled Athenian audiences and represented the “imperial dream” of the inhabitants of a small country at the fringes of Europe. Operetta was instrumental to the creation of Greek musical theatre companies since the first decade of the 20th century and became popular as easily staged spectacle for their tours all over the southeastern Mediterranean. This preparatory phase ended with the mass production of plays and performances of Greek operetta during the interwar period.

This chapter offers a multi-sided approach to the expansion of operetta in Greek-speaking areas. It is a genre which brought with it a renovation of the Modern Greek theatrical stage and life, invigorating it with a new repertoire and forming a new theatrical tradition with respect to acting and staging. The new original operetta creations provided the frame for Greece’s twofold musical identity: western and oriental. At the same time, operetta succeeded in functioning as a social melting pot between “high” and “popular” musical creation. It was the source of a great number of very widely-known songs which were sung for decades as bourgeois and popular hits.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Operetta
EditorsAnastasia Belina, Derek B. Scott
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781107182165
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • performance
  • performing arts
  • music
  • music theatre
  • Creative industries
  • Greece
  • opera
  • Opera studies
  • operetta
  • Modern Greece
  • Modern Greek Culture
  • Modern Greek Studies
  • arts


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