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Jacques Offenbach (1819 - 1880)


Jacques Offenbach (June 20, 1819 -October 4, 1880), composer and cellist, the creator of "La vie Parisienne" and an originator of the operetta form, a precursor of the modern musical comedy. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Offenbach [Aug 2004]

Les Contes d'Hoffman

The Tales of Hoffman (in French: Les Contes d'Hoffman) is a French opera by Jacques Offenbach. The libretto was written by J. Barbier and M. Carré. It was first performed in Paris in 1881, after the composer's death. Guiraud completed the scoring and supplied the recitatives which in most productions have replaced the original spoken dialogue.

The hero of the plot is based on German romantic writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, and the succession of amorous adventures is drawn from his works.

The Tales of Hoffman is part of the standard operatic repertoire, but it is only occasionally performed. There are a several recordings of it. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tales_of_Hoffman [Nov 2004]

Wagner [...]

In more ways than one, Offenbach, also a Jew, deserves the last word on the Paris of the 1860s and its significance. Like many "outsiders" before and since, Offenbach was able to define, distill, and parody the main currents of Parisian culture and its values and communicate them back to the majority of Parisians. This outsider created the very definition of the "cultural center" in relation to which, ironically, he remained marginal. Offenbach's achievement went still further. In the midst of the craze for Wagner (who was among the most significant of modern anti-Semites), this German Jew, like Heinrich Heine (who also had immigrated to Paris), used wit and insight to expose and blunt aesthetic pretentiousness, smugness, hypocrisy, conceit, and the terrifying self-importance of modern wealth and political power. High on the explicit and implicit list of Offenbach's targets for ridicule were Wagner and his Parisian followers. --Leon Botstein, http://www.americansymphony.org/dialogues_extensions/94_95season/1st_concert/leon.cfm [Aug 2004]

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