OFFENBACH (JACQUES)

  • Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) French composer and cellist of German origin. His father, cantor at the synagogue in Cologne, had chosen under the empire the name of Offenbach, the city where he came from.
  • Child prodigy he arrived in Paris at the age of thirteen to study the cello. After a year, he left the Conservatoire for positions as an orchestral musician at the Ambigu-Comique theater and at the Opéra-Comique. At the same time, he leads a career as a virtuoso soloist.
  • In 1850, he was musical director of the Théâtre-Français. Five years later, he rented a small hall on his own account, the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, on the Champs-Élysées, near the Universal Exhibition of 1855, in order to be able to produce his works there. This earned him the nickname "Little Mozart of the Champs-Elysées" from Rossini.
  • Several of his works are today classics of the lyric repertoire. Their success goes in part to his librettists, including Henry Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, and to the soprano Hortense Schneider.
  • Under cover of historical subjects evoking antiquity or mythology, and under the pretext of making people laugh, opera-puffs like “Orphée aux enfers” (1858) or “La Belle Hélène” (1864), express a fierce criticism of society of the time.
  • The war of 1870, the fall of the empire, the Commune remove the king from the imperial festival from Paris. After a triumphant tour of the United States, Offenbach returned to France and composed two patriotic works Madame Favart (1878), then “La Fille du tambour-major” (1879), one of his most popular scores. At sixty-one years old, Offenbach began "Les contes d´Hoffmann", his only opera, a synthesis of opera-food, romantic opera and grand opera à la française. Exhausted by the work that was to crown his career, Offenbach died on October 5, 1880, at his Parisian home on boulevard des Capucines, four months before the creation at the Opéra-comique.
  • Jacques Offenbach leaves a catalog of more than one hundred operas and operas. Less known to the general public, his pieces for cello and piano, his religious and symphonic music, his melodies, are imbued with great sensitivity and certain melancholy.
  • © Didier Chagnas
OFFENBACH (JACQUES)