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PHILHARMONICA. International Music Journal

Light Operas by William Schwenck Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan: The Characteristics of Their Works and Peculiarities of Their Performing Style

Breytburg Valeriya Vyacheslavovna

PhD in Art History

Associate Professor at the Department of Popular and Jazz Singing of the Faculty of Music Variety Art of the Gnesins Russian Academy of Music

121069, Russia, g. Moscow, ul. Povarskaya, 30-36




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Abstract: The object of research in this article is a separate branch of music theatre - the English Savoy operas. These are predominantly comic operas by W.S. Gilbert and A. Sullivan. Having the traits of a ballad opera, operetta and musical, they combine music and performing techniques typical for these forms of performance. These plays were immensely popular both abroad and in Russia where 177 performances had been put on from 1877 till 1998. Consequently, Gilbert’s and Sullivan’s theatre, summing the achievements of its predecessors, at the same time contributed original traits to the further development of music theatre; it raised operetta to a much higher layer and became a starting point for new genres. 
Specific and severe requirements were imposed by the composers on the artists. The purpose of the research is to study the peculiarities of the performing style of operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan. The scientific value of the materials of the article consists in the accentuation of an original aspect of the research - the Savoy opera performing style, the generalization of sketchy data on this problem, the introduction of new sources. The conceptual elements of compositions, which are the core of a theatre-music image, take on special value. It is a dramaturgic component that determines vocal implementation, influences the attitude to diction and phrasing, and the plastic pattern of the role.
The materials of the article have methodical importance for the modern performers playing in operettas and popular musicals. 

Keywords: acting, musical theater, mass art, performing style, Savoy Opera, Gilbert and Sullivan, operetta, stage image, vocal technique, English music
This article written in Russian. You can find full text of article in Russian here .

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