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COMPOSERS

Jacques Offenbach

Jacques Offenbach

Jacques Offenbach's life

Jacques Offenbach was born in 1819 and was a German-born French composer. Offenbach showed an early musical talent. At the age of 14, he was accepted at the Paris Conservatoire but he didn't enjoy academic study and left after a year. From 1835 to 1855 he earned his living as a cellist, achieving international fame, and as a conductor. His dream was to compose comic pieces for the musical theatre and in 1855 he leased a small theatre in the Champs-Élysées where he presented a series of his own small-scale pieces, many of which became popular. He is considered one of the originators of the operetta form. He was one of the most influential composers of popular music in Europe in the 19th century, and many of his works remain in the repertory. Offenbach's numerous operettas, such as Orpheus in the Underworld, and La belle Hélène, were extremely popular in both France and the English-speaking world during the 1850s and 1860s and combined political and cultural satire with witty grand opera parodies. His popularity in France went down during the 1870s after the Second Empire, and he fled France, but during the last years of his life, his popularity rebounded, and several of his operettas are still performed. While his name remains associated most closely with the French operetta and the Second Empire, it is Offenbach's one fully operatic masterpiece, The Tales of Hoffmann (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), composed at the end of his career, that has become the most familiar of Offenbach's works in major opera houses. He died in 1880.

Offenbach's Operas

L'alcôve (1847), Blanche (1847), La Duchesse d'Albe (1847), Le trésor à Mathurin ( 1853), Le trésor à Mathurin ( 1853), Pépito (1853), Luc et Lucette (1854), Le décaméron, ou La grotte d'azur (1855), Entrez, messieurs, mesdames (1855), Une nuit blanche (1855), Les deux aveugles (1855), Le rêve d'une nuit d'été (1855), Oyayaye, ou La reine des îles ( 1855), Le violoneux ( 1855), Madame Papillon ( 1855), Paimpol et Périnette ( 1855), Ba-ta-clan (1855), Trafalgar – Sur un volcan (1855), Un postillon en gage (1856), Tromb-al-ca-zar, ou Les criminels dramatiques (1856), La rose de Saint-Flour (1856), Les dragées du baptême (1856), Le 66 (1856), Le financier et le savetier (1856), La bonne d'enfant (1856), Les trois baisers du diable (1857), Croquefer, ou Le dernier des paladins (1857), Dragonette (1857), Vent du soir, ou L’horrible festin ( 1857), Une demoiselle en loterie (1857), Le mariage aux lanternes (1857), Les deux pêcheurs, ou Le lever du soleil (1857), Mesdames de la Halle (1858), La chatte métamorphosée en femme (1858), Orpheus in the Underworld (1858), (1859), Les vivandières de la grande-armée (1859), Geneviève de Brabant (1859), Le carnaval des revues (1860), Daphnis et Chloé (1860),Barkouf ( 1860), La chanson de Fortunio (1861), Le pont des soupirs (1861), M. Choufleuri restera chez lui le … (1861), Apothicaire et perruquier (1861), Le roman comique (1861), Monsieur et Madame Denis (1862), Bavard et bavarde (Les bavards) (1862), Le voyage de MM. Dunanan père et fils (1862), Jacqueline (1862), La baguette (Fédia) (1862), Il signor Fagotto (1863), Lischen et Fritzchen (1863), L'amour chanteur (1864), Les géorgiennes (1864), Le fifre enchanté, ou Le soldat magicien (1864), Jeanne qui pleure et Jean qui rit (1864), La belle Hélène (1864), Coscoletto, ou Le lazzarone (1865), Les refrains des bouffes (1865), Les bergers (1865), Barbe-bleue (1866), La vie parisienne (1866), La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (1867), La permission de dix heures (1867), La leçon de chant électromagnétique (1867), Robinson Crusoé (1867), Geneviève de Brabant (1867), Le château à Toto (1868), Le pont des soupirs (revised version) (1868), L'île de Tulipatan (1868), La Périchole (1868), Vert-Vert (1869), La diva (1869), La princesse de Trébizonde (1869), La princesse de Trébizonde (revised version) (1869), Les brigands (1869), La romance de la rose (1869), Boule de neige (revised version of Barkouf) (1871), Le roi Carotte (1872), Fantasio (1872), Fleurette, oder Trompeter und Näherin (1872), Le corsaire noir (1872), Les braconniers (1873), Pomme d'api (1873), La permission de dix heures (revised version) (1873), La vie parisienne (revised version) (1873), La jolie parfumeuse (1873), La Périchole (revised version) (1874), Bagatelle (1874), Madame l'archiduc (1874), Whittington (1874), Geneviève de Brabant (second revised version) (1875), Les hannetons (1875), La boulangère a des écus (1875), Le voyage dans la lune (1875), La créole (1875), Tarte à la crême (1875), Pierrette et Jacquot (1876), La boîte au lait (1876), Le docteur Ox (1877), La foire Saint-Laurent (1877), Maître Péronilla (1878), Madame Favart (1878), La marocaine (1879), La fille du tambour-major (1879), Belle Lurette (1880), Mam'zelle Moucheron (1881), Les Contes d'Hoffmann (1881).

Curiosities

Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann

Jacques Offenbach passed away before he could witness the great success of his only masterpiece in opera, however he was a master in operetta. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opéra-fantastique, premiered unfinished and was completed by Ernest Guiraud, who turned most of the dialogues in musical recitatives. The debut was at Salle Favarte in Paris on 10th February 1881, a few months after the author's death. The journey of the poet E.T.A. Hoffmann through the unlucky loves of his life (Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta, Stella), permeated by a demoniac presence, has seen many editions and revisions of the musical sheet in order to make it closer to Offenbach's original idea, so there isn't a definitive version.
What remains is the amazing dream (sometimes a nightmare...) in music of an extraordinary opera, ambiguous and elusive, with moving, innovative musical pages for one of the most beautiful opera of the French Nineteenth Century.
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