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In contrast to the elitist opera, the lighter operetta appealed to a middle-class audience with its attractive tunes, dancing, and spoken dialogue in English. Following the success of H.M.S. Pinafore in 1879, a Gilbert and Sullivan craze swept the nation. Gustave Kerker, Franz Lehar, and especially Victor Herbert carried the form into the next century where it developed into the distinctively American musical comedy.

 
Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life : The Dream Melody / lyric by Rida Johnson Young ; music by Victor Herbert.
Herbert, Victor, 1859-1924.
Witmark black and white series.
New York : M. Witmark, c1910
1 vocal score (3 p.) : ill. ; 31 cm.
Image ID: WWM9937/G99C197/001

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