Take a Play, Then Adorn It With Opera

By Allan Kozinn [NY Times, 24 March 2010]
The English were wary of the Continental taste for opera in the 17th century, but they liked the idea of adorning plays with music. What composers and theater producers came up with is a curious compromise that Roger North, a writer at the time, called “semi-opera.” In this hybrid form, a play is presented straightforwardly, as spoken text, with masques — parades of songs, choruses and dance — interspersed within each act.