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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

16 - British Operetta after Gilbert and Sullivan

from Part III - Operetta since 1900


The chapter begins with a survey of musical comedy of the 1890s and early twentieth century. A brief account of Edward German and his operettas follows. Noël Coward established himself as a British operetta composer with Bitter Sweet in 1929. However, the person who did most to keep English operetta alive in the 1930s was the Welsh composer Ivor Novello (1893–1951). He gained a considerable amount of experience both as a composer for the stage and as an actor before completing his first operetta, Glamorous Night, in 1935. This chapter assesses Novello’s achievements, musical and dramatic, and investigates the critical reception of his operettas. It places him in the context of what came before (Fraser-Simson, Montague Phillips, Noël Coward) and what came after (Vivian Ellis, Julian Slade, Sandy Wilson).