I know this will be behind a paywall for some, but in a NY Times op ed piece dated
today, John McWhorter compared musicals to opera. Musicals come out rather well.
Interesting thank you. (I was informed I'd reached my free limit but was able to read it by scrolling down a Preview box to the side).
Really he's just saying he gets the value in musicals and they shouldn't be dismissed. After all its just opinion. I agree and think it needs saying. I've mentioned before that I long ago moved away from my peer group in musical tastes. Several later 'got' (at least some) Opera but they remain uninterested or even dismissive of musical theatre.
I love 'only make believe ' but is it really the equal of 'la chi darem'? Just shows the difficulty in justifying opinions. I'm not 'musically educated ' but to these ears the later is sublime with little to equal it as a piece of musical theatre. Perhaps he just picked a poor comparison.
I did like him arguing for Operetta the truly unfashionable form of music theatre. And he made a good point about the composers of Opera also being the orchestrator; but could have gone further, surely it's a necessity in a through composed piece? Through composing puts different requirements on ALL the music and leads to the primacy of the composer over the book writer and the lyricist. Interestingly there's 4 jobs in musicals (book, music, lyrics and arranger) and only two in Opera. There's more to be said.
An area where I think Musicals have a theatrical advantage is incorporating dance. Not just because of choreographers using ballet in a more interesting and integral way but there's more opportunities because the actors are dance trained. Can Opera offer us a moment like Shall we dance?
For me, the two (three?) forms sit happily together. I'm delighted he mentions Candide, a personal favourite, where the two(and a half😉) COLLIDE!