A melodrama is a dramatic work that exaggerates plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions, often with strongly stereotyped characters. Language, behaviour, or events which resemble melodramas are also called melodramatic. In scholarly and historical musical contexts melodramas are dramas of the 18th and 19th centuries in which orchestral music or song was used to accompany the action.
Melodrama is a style of drama that has been applied on the stage, in movies and television, and radio formats, from the 18th century to the present. Because of the long timeframe in which the style has existed, it is difficult to derive a precise definition. The term melodrama is most often used pejoratively, to suggest that the work to which the term is applied lacks sophistication or subtlety.
The term originated from the early 19th-century French word mélodrame, which is derived from Greek melos, music, and French drame, drama (from Late Latin dr?ma, which in turn derives from Greek dr?n, to do, perform).
Australian Catholic University Excellent lecture notes on 19th Century melodrama.
Victoria Research Web Teaching resources for Victorian society.
Towson University Overview of 19th Century theatre.
Trinity University Timeline from 1745-1829.
Victorian Web Music, theatre and popular entertainment in Victorian Britain.