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date: 09 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

W. S. Gilbert (librettist) and Arthur Sullivan (composer) wrote fourteen works of musical theatre from 1871 to 1896, often called the ‘Savoy operas’ after 1881, when producer Richard D’Oyly Carte built the Savoy Theatre to house them. They crafted a distinctive genre of English comic opera through parodies of previous genres both high and low, both English and Continental. The operas are absurdist, parodic, and satirical, but are played in a deadpan style and are punctuated with resonantly affecting numbers. The comic operas by Gilbert and Sullivan are an essential precursor of the modern musical, and their depiction of English society is humorous yet critical, replete with satire of English institutions, the law, the professions, gender relations, and empire. They examine the theatricality of everyday life, the dynamics of socialization, accidents of birth and circumstance, the effects of tutelage and authority, Victorian exhibition culture, social class, gender, and nationalism.

Keywords: class, gender, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Mikado, nationalism, parody, Patience, satire, Utopia Limited, Victorian

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