What do you think seperates an opera from a musical?
The ticket prices.
There is sometimes very little difference between an opera and a musical. In general, an opera is any musical stage work accompanied by a live orchestra and without spoken dialogue. Under that definition, a work such as Les Miserables
(which, I believe, has no spoken dialogue), qualifies as an opera, even though it is billed as a musical. On the other hand, Carmen
, perhaps the most popular opera in history, was originally written with
spoken dialogue (in that form it was, technically, an opéra comique
). So the definitional boundaries are rather blurry.
As a general rule, a work that is designed for the popular stage and intended for a long, continuous run will be billed as a musical, even if it could qualify as an opera. Rock operas like Jesus Christ, Superstar
are an exception, probably because the producers want to inject some "class" into the production. Otherwise, the word "opera" would be box office poison for a Broadway show and is studiously avoided at all costs ("operetta" is even worse, despite the fact that many musicals could qualify as operettas).
In a hundred years, when a major opera company puts on a production of Les Miserables
, perhaps then it will be called an opera. Until then, it's a musical.