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Musical drama similar to opera, usually with a romantically sentimental plot, employing songs, dances, and orchestral interludes interspersed with spoken dialogue. The modern tradition began with Jacques Offenbach, who wrote some 90 operettas and inspired a Viennese tradition that began with the works of Franz von Suppé and Johann Strauss. In Britain most of the 14 comic operettas (1871–96) of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan have been enduringly popular. In the U.S. the works of such composers as Victor Herbert, Reginald De Koven, John Philip Sousa, and Sigmund Romberg were widely popular in the early 20th century. See alsomusical.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on operetta, visit Britannica.com.