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Offenbach, Jacques

Entry updated 31 October 2022. Tagged: Music, People.

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(1819-1880) German-born composer of over 100 operas, operettas and other musical pieces; in France from 1833, naturalized 1860. He is recorded here mainly for Le Voyage dans la lune (1875), an opéra bouffe (strictly speaking it is an opéra féerie) adaptation of Jules Verne's De la Terre à la Lune (1865). "Adaptation" ought to be understood, here, somewhat loosely. Although Offenbach and his librettists (Eugène Leterrier, Albert Vanloo and Alfred Mortier) took a few elements from Verne's novel (the spacecraft is, for instance, fired out of a large cannon), they developed the story in distinctly unVernean directions: the twenty-three scenes of the piece take the audience to a topsy-turvy satirical Moon more familiar from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (see Satire). The work was a hit, running for 185 performances, a success that encouraged Offenbach to another Verne adaptation, the three-act Le docteur Ox (1877; libretto by Alfred Mortier and Philippe Gille). Both are good examples of Offenbach's brightly skilful musical genius. Also of note is his Tales of Hoffmann (1881), based on stories by E T A Hoffmann (whom see), some of whose most famous music is taken from his earlier opéras féeries. [AR]

Jacques Offenbach

born Köln, Germany: 20 June 1819

died Paris: 5 October 1880

about the composer

  • Alexander Dratwicki and Étienne Jardin, editors. Jacques Offenbach: Le Voyage dans la Lune (Venice, Italy: Palazzetto Bru Zane, 2022) [nonfiction: coll: essays on opera plus libretto: accompanied by CDs: hb/]


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