Personalities | Jacques Offenbach | High Romantic | Opera

1819–80, French

Jacques Offenbach had an acute sense of theatre and an incisive understanding of how to cater for French tastes. He was 14 when his father sent him to Paris, where Jews were freer than they were in Germany. Offenbach became a cellist, performing in fashionable salons, and finally, in 1855, became famous. He rented the Théâtre Marigny, named it Les Bouffes-Parisiens and staged a series of successful operettas. In 1858 he scored his greatest triumph with his own Orphée aux enfers (‘Orpheus in the Underworld’). This irreverent exposé of naughty goings-on among the ancient Greek gods scandalized classicists, delighted audiences and made Offenbach world-renowned. A series of successful operettas followed, including La belle Hélène (‘Fair Helen’, 1864) and La vie Parisienne (‘Paris Life’, 1866), all satirical and full of fun. It was said that the sound of laughter could be heard in Offenbach’s music. His last work, Les contes d’Hoffmann (‘The Tales of Hoffmann’, 1881), was an attempt at something more serious, but sadly he died during rehearsals.

Introduction | High Romantic | Opera
Major Operas | La belle Hélène by Jacques Offenbach | High Romantic
Major Operas | Orphée aux enfers by Jacques Offenbach | High Romantic
Major Operas | Les contes d’Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach | High Romantic
Personalities | Adelina Patti | High Romantic | Opera
Techniques | Operetta | Turn of the Century | Opera


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