The most famous writers of light opera were the English duo, William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, or simply, G&S. Their works, produced in the 1870s and 1880s such as The Mikado, HMS Pinafore, and The Pirates of Penzance were very successful. They are still popular and in demand today.

The Musicals

The operetta led on to the musical in the 20th century. A musical is a form of theatre show that combines music, songs for solo singers and chorus, some dance routines, if needed, and dialogue.

The story of the musicals contain the time immemorial emotional theme – that of love, anger, humor, relationships – all communicated through music and words – with an aspect of entertaining the audience.

The performers are made-up and in costumes, as the musicals themselves often require sets and props. Sometimes, the story-line is fictional, and other times, based on a true story. The first musicals appeared around the 1920s.

Stage Musicals

Some famous musicals include Rodgers and Hammerstein's Show Boat, Oklahoma!, Bernstein and Sondheim's West Side Story, the French musical Les Miserablés, and Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, among others.  

Musicals are performed around the world. Most popular are West End and Broadway theatres of London, and Broadway in New York. 

Schools often like to stage musicals as their annual productions. When the stage is small enough to handle it, stage productions come up with adaptations, with the theme remaining intact. One popular school play has been Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice.


Film Musicals

Many of these musicals have been produced into a highly successful film-musical blockbusters like Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music. Other musical films that these famous duo produced include Carousel, South Pacific, and The King and I.

The Sound of Music, written in 1959, tells the story of the Von Trapp family of singers living in Salzburg, Austria. Some of the great songs are the "Sound of Music" theme itself, "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "Do-re-mi," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" and "My Favourite Things."

The British musical Oliver! was written and composed by Lionel Bart in 1960 based on Charles Dicken's novel Oliver Twist. The film soundtrack was produced in 1968 starring Mark Lester. There are many memorable songs, including "Food, Glorious Food," "Oom-Pah-Pah," "Consider Yourself," "Where is Love," and "As Long as He Needs Me."

Rock Musicals

A number of musicals use a rock group, instead of the traditional theatre orchestra or band. These changes the style of music played and sung. The first rock musical was Hair, in 1968. That time, this show was considered revolutionary, having touched issues including drugs, racism and sex.

Another example of a rock musical is Godspell, a religious production in the early 1970s.


Rock Opera

Although a rock opera is still considered a musical, it is referred to as an opera since everything is practically sung. (Traditional opera has less or little dialogue.) An example of a rock opera is Jesus Christ Superstar, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.


Related link:

Rodgers and Hammerstein II, the Greatest Partnership of All-time






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