a traditional Spanish musical drama adapted in the Philippines

Its origin is in the Spanish zarzuela, which was a musical dramatic form with spoken dialogue.

The word zarzuela comes from the name of a hunting lodge in Spain that was used by royalty. El Palacio de la Zarzuela  had a theater in which was performed a play that was called ‘fiesta de la Zarzuela’ -- although the title was a reference to the location, the word ‘zarzuela’ came to be adopted for a distinct genre.

In the late 19th century in the latter years of the Spanish colonial period, the form was introduced to the Philippines and continued to flourish into the 20th. A favorite plot theme would involve a love story. Famous writers of sarsuelas include Benigno Zamora, Severino Reyes and Clodualdo del Mundo. Dalagang Bukid (Country Maiden, 1919) is arguably the most popular sarsuwela in Tagalog.


a theatrical spectacle that mixes songs with dances

Ano ang sarswela? Ito ay dulang inawitan.
What is a sarswela? It is a play with songs.

Severino Reyes is known as the Ama ng Sarsuela (Father of the Zarzuela).

Spellings: zarzuela -> sarsuela -> sarsuwela -> sarswela (simplified)