Opera has flourished throughout the world as a vehicle for the expression of the full range of human emotions.  Italians claim the art form as their own, retaining dominance in the field through the death of Giacomo Puccini in 1924.  Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, and Leoncavallo developed the art form through clearly defined periods that produced opera buffa, opera seria, bel canto, and verismo.  The Austrian Mozart also wrote operas in Italian and championed the singspiel (sing play), which combined the spoken word with music, a form also used by Beethoven in his only opera, Fidelio.

Bizet (Carmen), Offenbach (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Gounod (Faust), and Meyerbeer (Les Huguenots) led the adaptation by the French which ranged from the opera comique to the grand full-scale tragedie lyrique.  German composers von Weber (Der Freischütz), Richard Strauss (Ariadne auf Naxos), and Wagner (Der Ring des Nibelungen) developed diverse forms such as singspiel to through-composed spectacles unified through the use of the leitmotif. The English ballad opera, Spanish zarzuela and Viennese operetta helped to establish opera as a form of entertainment which continues to enjoy great popularity throughout the world.

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