Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)

After a successful early career as a virtuoso cellist, he spent most of his time working in theatres such as the Theatre Francais and Bouffes Parisiens. In 1855 he opened his own theatre, where his light-hearted stage-works were performed. He continued a successful career, devoted largely to operetta and operas comiques, until his death in 1880. Out of 90 or so operettas, few of which have survived, the best known is Orphee aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld), which is remembered especially for its famous can-can. Other operettas include La Belle Helene (Fair Helen) and La Vie Parisienne. Offenbach's final opera, Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann), completed after the composer's death by Bizet's friend Ernest Guiraud, is based on stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann, including the tale of Dr. Coppelius and his life-like creation, the doll Coppelia. The most popular melody in it is the Barcarolle. Although completely identified with France, Offenbach was of German-Jewish origin. He is buried in the Cimetiere de Montmartre, Paris, France.

Sheet music: Jacques Offenbach

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