Meaning of Burlesque

If we go to the dictionary of the DigoPaul, we will not find the word burlesque. The concept, however, is used in our language to refer to a work or show that is responsible for ridiculing a certain topic.

Emerged as a literary subgenre, today the burlesque is associated with variety theater. These are parodic works that present influences from cabaret, music hall and vaudeville and whose contents are usually loaded with eroticism.

According to DigoPaul, the literary burlesque was born in the 16th century as a derivation of comedy. His works were oriented to satire, ridiculing serious issues or giving legitimacy to issues condemned at the social level.

In this area, the term burlesque first appeared in the title ” Burlesque Works “, by Francesco Berni, who created a concept and a genre unprecedented in literature, with the aforementioned characteristics. One of the writers who adopted this genre was Miguel de Cervantes, although there were several poets and storytellers who welcomed him with open arms to explore new facets of his creativity; in works such as Don Quixote de la Mancha and exemplary Novels we can appreciate a clear ridicule of the epic character and medieval romance.

Between 1600 and 1750, literary burlesque was one of the prominent genres of the Baroque. Thanks to techniques such as defamation, parody and comic-heroism, these works were intentionally ridiculed. Within this genre, two subgenres can be distinguished: burlesque high and low. The former was used to create a context in which a comical and inappropriate subject was taken seriously, while the latter ridiculed something considered serious and worthy of respect.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the musical burlesque emerged, a qualification that received operettas of joyful spirit. In the first decades of the 19th century, the Victorian burlesque also began to develop, already linked to variety theater.

Years later this type of burlesque was consolidated in the so-called American burlesque. Their presentations included humorous numbers (sketches), sensual dancers (of striptease or striptease) and phenomena (that English are called freaks).

“Burlesque” or “Burlesque in D minor”, on the other hand, is the title of a piece of music by Richard Strauss for piano and orchestra. It was composed in 1886 and released in 1890.

“Burlesque”, finally, is a film of 2010 that has the role of Christina Aguilera and direction of Steve Antin. The film won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song and grossed more than $ 112 million worldwide. Its soundtrack was also a success.

With regard to the etymology of the term burlesque, we can say that it comes from the Italian language, where the meaning of his family refers to the concept of “joke.” The genre called burlesque, particularly the dramatic one from the Victorian era, was often known by the names travesty (not to be confused with the Spanish word transvestite) and extravaganza.

These last two terms represent genres of comedy that have many elements in common with burlesque, although they also have their differences. It should be noted that the word transvesty can also be applied to any area of ​​burlesque, be it dramatic, musical or literary. It is a less elaborate version of burlesque, modifying the subject until it becomes absolutely ridiculous and hilarious. For its part, extravaganza is a free form of this genre, both literary and dramatic, which is generally associated with “the spectacular.” This clash between seriousness and humor continues to be effective even to this day.