Melodramma (plural: melodrammi) is a 17th-century Italian term for a text to be set as an opera, or the opera itself. In the 19th-century, it was used in a much narrower sense by English writers to discuss developments in the early Italian libretto, e.g., Rigoletto and Un ballo in maschera. Characteristic are the influence of French bourgeois drama, female instead of male protagonists, and the practice of opening the action with a chorus.
It should not be confused with Victorian stage melodrama (drama of exaggerated intensity), to which it seems to be, however, related, or with melodrama (spoken declamation accompanied by background music) (in Italian, melologo), both of which are spelled without a single m. 
- The Harvard Dictionary of Music, fourth edition, 2003, p. 499.
- Patrick Smith in The Tenth Muse, p.73; The Harvard Dictionary of Music, fourth edition, 2003, p. 499.
- Patrick Smith in The Tenth Muse, p.73.
- Budden, Julian: Melodramma in 'The New Grove Dictionary of Opera', ed. Stanley Sadie (London, 1992) ISBN 0-333-73432-7