Cultural influence of Gilbert and Sullivan  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In the past 125 years, Gilbert and Sullivan have pervasively influenced popular culture in the English-speaking world. Lines and quotations from the Gilbert and Sullivan operas have become part of the English language, such as "short, sharp shock", "What never? Well, hardly ever!", "let the punishment fit the crime", and "A policeman's lot is not a happy one".

The Savoy operas heavily influenced the course of the development of modern musical theatre. They have also influenced political style and discourse, literature, film and television and advertising, and have been widely parodied by humorists. Because they are well-known, and convey a distinct sense of Britishness (or even Victorian Britishness), and because they are in the public domain, songs from the operas appear "in the background" in many movies and television shows.

The operas have so pervaded Western culture that events from the "lives" of their characters from the operas are memorialized by major news outlets. For instance, a New York Times article on 29 February 1940, noted that Frederic, from The Pirates of Penzance, was finally out of his indentures (having reached his 21st birthday, as described in that opera).




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cultural influence of Gilbert and Sullivan" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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