General English

  • adjective smelling or tasting both bitter and sweet
  • adjective causing feelings of both happiness and sadness


  • (written as Bitter Sweet)
    Noël Coward's most popular musical, an operettathat opened in 1929 at Her Majesty's Theatre and transferred to thePalace Theatre for a total of 697 performances. Unlike Coward's nonmusicalcomedies, however, this sentimental romance has enjoyed few modernrevivals.

    The action begins in 1929, during a party at the home of Sarah, theMarchioness Shayne. Sarah is distressed to learn that one of the guests, Dolly Chamberlayne, has fallen for an orchestra leader despite being engaged to a peer of the realm. The scene then shifts to 1880 to reveal that Sarahtoo once loved a musician, the Austrian Carl Linden, leading her to turn her back on her fiancé, a distinguished diplomat. Their simple life in Austria came to an end when Linden was killed in a duel with a cavalry officer, who had tried to seduce her. She subsequently dedicated herself to performing his songs at nightclubs throughout Europe. The Marquis of Shayne became entranced with her, and she married him for companionship. The last act returns to 1929.

    Coward's songs included 'The call of Life', 'I'll See YouAgain', 'Zigeuner', 'Ladies of the Town', 'If Love Were All', and'Tarara Boom-de-ay':

    Tarara boom-de-ay,
    Tarara boom-de-ay,
    We are the most effectual,
    Movement of the day.