Definition and background:
Derived from opera, operetta is a less serious form of opera made up of spoken dialog, songs and dances. The operetta is typically written to have a popular appeal to the audience of it's day. The modern operetta had its beginnings in the 19th century with the works of Jacques Offenbach who composed more than 90. Today, the term musical or Broadway musical has the same meaning. a light type of opera, generally including spoken dialogue
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary