Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Musical and the Opera

Musical vs Opera

If you are fond of stage plays and other similar production numbers, then it won’t come as a surprise that you are an automatic fan of operas and musicals. With today’s modernizing trends in entertainment which stretch both of their grandiosities, discerning between the two has become quite difficult for some. So how do you distinguish a musical from an opera?

Being both largely produced stage works, the two have lots of important differences. First, opera considers music as the lifeblood of the production whereas a musical relies more on the text or the story. This is because operas up to this day are built on the foundation of classical music. It is like how one would picture the classical music of Mozart in the opera “Magic Flute.” This masterpiece is one of the few exceptions wherein there seems to be short, spoken dialogues within the entire production. But basically, operas are sung all over from beginning to end. There are just some parts that seem to depict dialogues. However, these dialogues are portrayed as recitatives (like spoken music).

Musicals, on the other hand, are more in tune to the popular culture of music. And so they share complex or non-linear stories as opposed to the simpler story lines or plots in operas. Musicals are also different in the sense that their music segments are scattered. If you examine popular musicals like “Joseph,” “Les Miserables” and “Chess,” you will notice that the story is deep while the musical element is still maintained in various parts of the play. As a matter of fact, musicals are dubbed as modern or popular operas as they still have some marked likeness to standard opera. Moreover, there are several musicals that incorporate dancing in their segments. Operas never use the dance element.
History wise, operas surfaced as early as the later part of the 16th century. The predominant themes back then were on Greco-Roman and ancient subjects. The newcomer, the musical, was just created sometime in mid-19th century. There were lots of comedic themes and even circus-like acts which incorporated lots of music as well.

Lastly, the vocal styles used are also different. In operas, the singers usually employ the vibrato technique as characterized by the roundness and strength of their voices. Musicals sing more like doing a usual conversation.


1.Musicals have more depth and priority to the story or plot.
2.Operas give more priority to singing .
3.Musicals may have segments of dancing whereas operas never have dances.
4.Musicals utilize spoken texts in their song numbers.
5.Operas are older than musicals.
6.Operas usually employ the vibrato style of singing.

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