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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Ivor Novello represents the stylistic bridge between Edwardian operetta and post-Second World War British musical comedy. This essay charts the development of British operetta, which was dominated by Novello, in the context of changing public attitudes, artistic influences, and world events. Consideration will be given to how Novello and his contemporaries were obliged to adapt their style to compete with the changes in British musical theatre in the late 1940s, what kind of legacy their works have left, why the pieces are seldom performed today, and why much of British musical theatre of this period has been forgotten. Whilst some of the contemporary neglect of English operetta may be attributed to the loss of some of the original material (such as libretti, sheet music, and orchestrations) and the lack of adequate recordings, the question will be considered whether the work of Novello and his fellow writers is actually worth reviving.

Keywords: Noël Coward, Gay’s the Word, Glamorous Night, Christopher Hassall, Eric Maschwitz, musical comedy, Ivor Novello, operetta, Harry Parr-Davies, Ruritania

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