Eighteenth century theatre  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
18th century literature, history of theatre

Eighteenth century theatre was marked by Neoclassicism.

Sexual farces of the Restoration were superseded by politically satirical comedies. The Licensing Act of 1737 introduced state censorship of public performances and limited the number of theatres in London to just two.

In 1731 George Lillo's play The London Merchant was a success at the Theatre-Royal in Drury Lane. It was a new kind of play, a domestic tragedy, which approximates to what later came to be called a melodrama.

Melodrama

Beginning in the 18th century, melodrama was a technique of combining spoken recitation with short pieces of accompanying music. In such works, music and spoken dialog typically alternated, although the music was sometimes also used to accompany pantomime. The earliest known examples are scenes in J. E. Eberlin's Latin school play Sigismundus (1753). The first full melodrama was Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Pygmalion, the text of which was written in 1762 but was first staged in Lyon in 1770. A different musical setting of Rousseau's Pygmalion by Anton Schweitzer was performed in Weimar in 1772, and Goethe wrote of it approvingly in Dichtung und Wahrheit.

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