Offenbach, Jacques


Jacques Offenbach is one of the most talented composers of the 19th century, the founder, as well as Hervé, of the operetta genre, the classic of the French operetta. His creative works were imbued with irony and skepticism. Numerous operettas were composed by Offenbach in which he veiledly mocked the life and customs of the Second Empire, they turned to be a kind of the satirical chronicle of his time.

Offenbach was a brilliant musical feuilletonist, satirist-buff, improviser, magician, musical transformer and manipulator, who perfectly knew the requirements and tastes of his public, but at the same time, knew how to preserve his own creative individuality. His music, clear, simple and accessible, avoiding any refinement, was at the same time always original, fresh, ingeniously orchestrated. It differed in ease, grace, wit, and the inexhaustible melodic richness. The rhythms of established and fashionable genres - march, waltz, gallop, cancan and others obtained the main role in it.

Jacques Offenbach was born on June 20, 1819 in Cologne, in the family of the local synagogue cantor, from childhood was interested in music, played violin and cello. In 1833, he moved to Paris, where he studied at the Conservatory, worked as a cellist in a theater orchestra, and from 1850 to 1855, he was the conductor in Comédie-Française. In 1855, Offenbach opened his own little Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, where he staged one-act operettas.

In 1858, the first full-size operetta by Offenbach "Orpheus in Hell" was staged. Then, one after another appeared “Genevieve of Brabant” (1859), “Daphnis and Chloe” (1860), “Song of Fortunio” (1861), “Jacqueline” (1862), “Chatterers” (1863), “Helen of Troy” (1864 ), “Bluebeard” (1866), “Parisian Life” (1866), “La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein” (1867), “L'île de Tulipatan” (1868), “La Périchole” (1868), “The Robbers” (1869), “The Black Corsair" (1872)," A Trip to the Moon” (1875), “Madame Favart” (1878), “The Drum Major's Daughter” (1879) and many other operettas.

Offenbach was not only a composer, but a conductor, director, co-author of the libretto, an entrepreneur of his own works as well. The highest point of his success was the Paris World Exhibition in 1867 where his operetta “La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein” were performed.

The collapse of the Second Empire terminated Offenbach’s career. In 1875, he was forced to declare himself bankrupt and close the theater. The composer, to improve his financial position, went to the United States as a conductor. His operettas of the second half of the 70’s perfect musically and artistically, were no popular with the public.

All his life he cherished the dream of writing an opera. Offenbach worked on it in 1880, but did not have time to finish it. The lyric-comedic opera “The Tales of Hoffmann” was completed by the composer Ernest Giro after the death of Offenbach died from heart disease on October 4, 1880.

Over a hundred musical and theatrical works - two- and three-act operettas, performances-reviews, musical interludes and farces comprise the vast creative heritage of the composer.

Ref: L. Mikheeva, A. Orelovich "In the world of operetta". Guide, 2nd add. Edition. Leningrad, "Soviet Composer", 1982