From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Comic opera, or light opera, denotes a sung dramatic work of a light or comic nature, usually with a happy ending.
Comic opera first developed in 18th-century Italy as opera buffa, an alternative to opera seria. It quickly made its way to France, where it became opéra comique, or opéra bouffe, and finally French operetta, with Jacques Offenbach as its most accomplished practitioner.
Both the Italian and French forms were major artistic exports to other parts of Europe. Many countries developed their own styles of comic opera, incorporating the Italian and French models along with their own musical traditions. Examples include Viennese operetta, German singspiel, Spanish zarzuela, Russian comic opera, English ballad opera, and Savoy Opera.