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A monodrama (also Solospiel in German; "solo play") is a theatrical or operatic piece played by a single actor or singer, usually portraying one character.

Monodrama in opera

In opera, a monodrama was originally a melodrama with one role such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Pygmalion, which was written in 1762 and first staged in Lyon in 1770, and Georg Benda's work of the same name (1779).

The term is also applied to modern works with a single soloist, such as Schönberg's Die Glückliche Hand (1924), which besides the protagonist has two additional silent roles as well as a choral prologue and epilogue. Erwartung (1924) and La voix humaine (1959) closely follow the traditional definition, while in Eight Songs for a Mad King (1969) and Luzifers Traum (from 1981) the instrumentalists are brought out of the pit to participate in the action.

Monodrama in spoken drama

Richard Anton Meerheimb, Samuel Beckett (Krapp's Last Tape), and Anton Chekhov (The Danger of Smoking), among others, have written monodramas. English Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "Maud" is also played as a monodrama. In Germany, an international theater festival for monodramas takes place regularly, the [1]. Occasionally, a solo scene within a play might be described as a monodrama. Also, most pieces for pantomimes are designed as monodramas.

As developed by Russian Symbolist Nikolai Evreinov (1879-1953) and encapsulated in his book The Theatre in Life (1927), a drama acted or designed to be acted by a single person. The term may also refer to a dramatic representation of what passes in an individual mind, as well as to a musical drama for a solo performer. Everything one witnesses on stage is portrayed from the mental state of the given protagonist.




Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




mono- +‎ drama




monodrama (plural monodramas)

  1. (theater) A play in the form of a monologue
    • 2009 January 16, “Classical and Opera Listings”, New York Times:
      The Dicapo Opera Theater presents the world premiere of “Lily,” a monodrama composed and performed by the mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock []

See also


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