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FAQ > General Information > What is Melodrama?

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The theatrical genre of Melodrama utilizes theme-music to manipulate the spectator's emotional response and to denote character types. The term combines "melody" (from the Greek "melōidía", meaning "song") and "drama"(Classical Greek: δράμα, dráma; meaning "action"). While the use of music is nearly ubiquitous in modern film, in a melodrama these musical cues will be used within a fairly rigid structure, and the characterizations will accordingly be somewhat more one-dimensional: Heroes will be unambiguously good and their entrance will be heralded by heroic-sounding trumpets and martial music; villains are unambiguously bad, and their entrance is greeted with dark-sounding, ominous chords.

Melodramas tend to be formulaic productions, with a clearly constructed world of connotations: a villain poses a threat, the hero escapes the threat (or rescues the heroine) and there is (generally) a happy ending. However, the term is also used in a broader sense to refer to a play, film, or other work in which emotion is exaggerated and plot and action are emphasized in comparison to the more character-driven emphasis within a drama. Melodramas can also be distinguished from tragedy by the fact that they are open to having a happy ending, but this is not always the case.

For more detailed information visit the Melodrama wikipedia entry here.


Last updated on March 24, 2009 by The Gaslight Melodrama Theatre