Musical selection to the operetta's birthday in our Music Library

July 5, 1855 is considered the operetta genre official birthday. On this day, Jacques Offenbach opened his small Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens on the Champs Elysees for the performance of opéra bouffe and operetta.

The universe of operetta is vast and diverse; it combines lyrics and satire, funny and serious, frivolous and appealing. At all times, the operetta was able to adapt to the requirements of the time, grasp the lessons of related arts, sensitively responded to the aspirations of the audience. This is the source of the operetta genre vitality. It is worth noting that, unlike opera, this genre has never been exclusive or elite. Operetta was always oriented to wide audience.

The music of the operetta embodies the characters’ relationship; it serves to develop the action and confirmation of the main idea, similar with ballet or opera genres. The operetta inherits the traditions of academic music and classical opera forms: arias, vocal ensembles, choirs, which are certainly simpler in structure, but not inferior in their musical beauty and melodism.

The cradle of operetta goes back to centuries. The Greek comedy asserted significant influence over the operetta general evolution - the parody comedies of manners by Aristophanes and Menander, as well as the Roman comedy by Plautus and Terentius, in particular.

Much later, a new musical and theatrical genre appears - the intermezzo. For example, “La Serva Padrona” (The Servant Turned Mistress) (1733) by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi is a striking example of intermezzo, which served as a model for subsequent works. The success of the “La Serva Padrona” in Paris stimulated Jean-Jacques Rousseau to the development of this genre on the French scene.

The formal birth of the operetta is historically connected with the name of Jacques Offenbach, who created the operetta as the integrated artistic concept and raised it to superlative height. After the theater was opened in 1855, during the next twenty years, he wrote and staged about ninety operettas, including “Orpheus in the Underworld” (Orphée aux Enfers) (1858), Genevieve of Brabant (1859), “Helen of Troy” (1864), “La Vie Parisienne” (1866),“La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein” (The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein) (1867),“La Périchole “ (1868),“Princess of Trapezuntine Empire” (1869),“I Masnadieri (The Bandits) (1869) and “Madame l'archiduc”(1874).

In parallel with Jacques Offenbach, Florimond Hervé, whose early compositions, the so-called buffoonery, had the features of an operetta, wrote “Mam'zelle Nitouche” (1883). Subsequent composers - Charles Lecocq (1832–1918), Edmond Audran (1842–1901), Robert Planquette (1848–1903) and фр. André Messager (1853–1929) completed the golden age of French operetta.

The Vienna classical operetta certainly begins with the work of the outstanding composer Johann Strauss. His majestic, refined and at the same time, soulful melodies denote the grandeur and brilliance of the Viennese classical operetta. His composing talent was revealed in 479 works. For the first time, Strauss turned to the musical and theatrical genre at the age of 46, being already a world-famous composer and author of the famous waltzes “The Blue Danube”, “Tales from the Vienna Woods” and others.

The heyday of the English operetta is associated primarily with Gilbert and Sullivan - theatrical partnership of the dramatist W. S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and the composer Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900) and the works they jointly created. The two men collaborated on fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which “H.M.S. Pinafore”, “The Pirates of Penzance” and “The Mikado” are among the best known.

Stage director and actor Mikhail Lentovsky played a significant role in the formation and development of operetta genre in Russia as well. His performances were very popular both with the public and art community. The Lentovsky Theater had a significant impact on young Konstantin Stanislavsky.

The composers Nikolay Strelnikov and especially Isaak Dunayevsky, who revolutionized this genre by combining entertainment and ideological lines organically in operetta are considered the founders of the Soviet operetta. The first operettas by Dunayevsky - “For Us and You” (1924), “Premiere Career” (1925) were close to vaudeville, the subsequent “Bridegrooms” (1927), marked a turn towards a new, Soviet operetta stylistics.

Strelnikov, in contrast, in writing his operettas followed the traditions of the Vienna school - both in music and in the storylines, creating peculiar melodramas-buffo.

Plenitude samples of Viennese, French, English and Russian operettas various musical media are stored in the museum Collection musical library.

We have prepared musical compilation of works by the prominent composers, the significant representatives of the operetta genre, such as Jacques Offenbach, Franz von Suppé, Johann Strauss II, as well as rare recordings of the operetta “The Beggar Student” by Carl Millöcker and “H.M.S. Pinafore” by Arthur Sullivan. Other works by these composers can be found in the thematic music compilations on the museum website in the section Music Library.

In the world of operetta. L. Mikheeva, A. Orelovich 1982
Stanislavsky K. My life in art. Collected works in eight volumes, vol. 1. M., 1954
Yankovsky M. The art of operetta. M., 1982
Trauberg L. Jacques Offenbach and others. M., 1987
Vladimirskaya A. Golden period of operetta. L., 1991