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Burlesque is a term which refers to a literary, dramatic or musical work that caricatures the manner, style or subject of serious works and their subjects. Deriving from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery. Another derivative from the Italian is burletta, which usually refers to a brief comic Italian (or, later, English) opera.

Often found in the case of Shakespeare's plays for example.

See also Travesty and Extravaganza.

burlesque burletta

F.C.L. Bosman (1928, p. 394) notes a quaint paring of the two terms in the description of Dowling's 1834 travesty of Othello (Othello Travestie) as a "burlesque burletta".

Ethiopian burlesque

A particular form developed by the minstrelsy movement was the so-called Ethiopian burlesque, often played in blackface[1], and popular in Cape Town in the mid 19th century. Also found as an Ethiopian opera, Ethiopian farce, or Ethiopian sketch.

"Ethiopian" was a term often of course employed simply as a euphemism for "negro" (or "nigger"), as in most of these cases, thus one would find such forms as Negro farce, Negro burlesque, or Negro sketch.

Examples included: Hamlet the Dainty, "an Ethiopian burlesque on Shakespeare's Hamlet" by George W. H. Griffin (1829-1879); Othello an "Ethiopian burlesque in 3 Acts", Shylock, or De Old Clothes Merchant of Venice ("Grand Ethiopian Burlesque"), Mazeppa ("Grand Ethiopian Burlesque").

See also the entry on Negro farce and the entry on Minstrels

Negro farce

This is a reference to farces performed in blackface[2], also termed Ethiopian farce, Ethiopian being used as a euphemism for "negro" (or "nigger").

Also found are such forms as Negro burlesque and Negro sketch.

See also the entry on Ethiopian farce and the entry on Minstrels


"Burlesque" in Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burlesque)

"Burletta" in Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burletta)

William John Mahar. 1999. Behind the Burnt Cork Mask: Early Blackface Minstrelsy and Antebellum American Popular Culture. University of Illinois Press: pp. 159-161[3]


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