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Zarzuela is the Spanish lyrical opera. There are two main forms, (1) the baroque zarzuela (c.1650-1750) and (2) the romantic zarzuela (c.1850-1950). The classic romantic zarzuelas are divided into two main types, (1) the género grande, longer, operatic-style works in two or three acts, and (2) the género chico, shorter, more populist works in one act, approximately an hour in length. Romantic zarzuela is a combination of sung musical numbers, instrumental interludes and dialogue. Musical content ranges from full-scale operatic arias (romanzas) through to popular songs, and dialogue from high poetic drama to lowlife comedy characters. There are also many types of zarzuela in between the two, with a variety of musical and dramatic flavors.

Placido Domingo's parents were zarzuela singers, and he grew up working in their touring company in Mexico. Zarzuela inspired him to sing and take to the stage.

See Musical theater, Operetta

Zarzuela is also the name of a Spanish dish made of diverse sorts of seafood and fish, named after the minor opera genre above, due to the mixture of characters.

The Palacio de la Zarzuela is the residence of the Spanish royal family, outside Madrid. It is smaller than their official residence, the Royal Palace of Madrid, which is used for state occasions. The opera style was named for the palace.