In theatrical terms the reference could be to a literary or musical work marked by extreme freedom of style and structure and usually by elements of burlesque or parody, or an elaborate theatrical production, such as a large circus or some musicals.
By analogy, it was popular in the 19th century as a term to describe travesty or burlesque versions of classic theatrical works as well - probably with reference to the fantastical, "over the top", style often employed in such works.
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