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Offenbach, Jacques (Jacob)

Offenbach, Jacques [Jacob] (b Deutz, nr. Cologne, 1819; d Paris, 1880). Ger.-Fr. composer, conductor, and cellist. Orig. surname Eberst, Wiener, or Levy: took name Offenbach because family came from Offenbach-am-Main. Son of cantor of Cologne synagogue. Studied Paris Cons. 1833–7, also playing vc. in Opéra-Comique orch. Cond. at Théâtre Français, 1849–55. From 1853 began to compose operettas, writing no fewer than 90 in the next quarter-cent. Man. of Théâtre Comte, renaming it Bouffes-Parisiens. The best of his lighter works, La Belle Hélène, Orphée aux Enfers, etc., symbolize the Fr. 2nd Empire, but his fame rests equally securely on his sole grand opera Les contes d'Hoffmann, on which he worked for many years. It was prod. after his death in a version rev. and largely orchestrated by Guiraud. Among his chief works are:OPERAS: Die Rheinnixen (Vienna 1864); Les contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) (1877–80).BALLET-PANTOMIME: Le Papillon (1860).OPERETTAS: Barbe-bleue (1866); La Belle Hélène (1864); Les Bergers de Watteau (1865); Daphnis et Chloé (1860); Les Deux Aveugles (1855); Dragonette (1857); La Fille du tambour-major (1879); Genéviève de Brabant (1859, rev. 1875); La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein (1867); Madame Favart (1878); Le Mariage aux lanternes (1857); Monsieur Choufleuri (1861); Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld) (1858, rev. 1874); La Périchole (1868, rev. 1874); Princesse de Trébizonde (1869); Robinson Crusoé (1867); La Vie parisienne (1866, rev. 1873; see also Gaîté parisienne); Pomme d'api (1873); Whittington and his Cat (1874).

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Offenbach, Jacques Levy

Jacques Levy Offenbach (ô´fənbäk, Fr. zhäk lāvē´ ôfĕnbäk´), 1819–80, French composer, b. Cologne. The son of a cantor, he went to Paris to study at the conservatory and in 1849 became a conductor at the Théâtre Français. The most successful composer of French operettas, he wrote more than 100 of them, the most successful of which perhaps was Orphée aux enfers (1858). Others include La Belle Hélène (1864), La Vie parisienne (1866), Barbe-bleue (1866), La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein (1867), and La Périchole (1868). Witty, fresh, gay, and cleverly orchestrated, they were immensely popular during the Second Empire, which they often satirized. Offenbach's one serious opera, Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Tales of Hoffmann, 1881), after E. T. A. Hoffmann, was his masterpiece. Unfinished at his death, the opera was produced posthumously, and in 1951 it was made into a motion picture combining opera and ballet.

See his Orpheus in America (1877, tr. 1957).

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Offenbach, Jacques Levy

Offenbach, Jacques Levy (1819–80) French composer. His reputation was founded on the brilliance of his numerous operettas, notably Orpheus in the Underworld (1858). Offenbach also wrote one opera Tales of Hoffmann (1881), based on the stories of E. T. A. Hoffmann.

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