Dramma giocoso

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For the Law & Order episode, see Dramma Giocoso (Law & Order: Criminal Intent).

Dramma giocoso (Italian, literally: drama with jokes; plural: drammi giocosi) is a genre of opera common in the mid-18th century. The term is a contraction of dramma giocoso per musica and describes the opera's libretto (text). The genre developed in the Neapolitan opera tradition, mainly through the work of the playwright Carlo Goldoni in Venice. A dramma giocoso characteristically used a grand buffo (comic or farce) scene as a dramatic climax at the end of an act. Goldoni's texts always consisted of two long acts with extended finales, followed by a short third act. Composers Baldassare Galuppi, Niccolò Piccinni, and Joseph Haydn set Goldoni's texts to music.

The only operas of this genre that are still frequently staged are Gioachino Rossini and Jacopo Ferretti's La Cenerentola (Cinderella) (1817) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte's Don Giovanni (1787) and Così fan tutte (1790). However, Mozart entered these works in his catalogue as opera buffa.


  • John Stone, "Mozart's Opinions and Outlook: Opera" in "The Mozart Compendium" ed. HC Robbins Landon, Thames and Hudson, London 1990.
  • Eberhard Thiel, Sachwörterbuch der Musik. Stuttgart: Kröner, 1984.