Bru Zane Classical Radio broadcasts on Sunday 15 October at 9 p.m. excerpts of Jacques Offenbach’s chosen operettas from the CD “Entre nous: Celebrating Offenbach” (Opera Rara, 2007).

Les Bergers (1865) – ‘En attendant l’hymen’, ‘Reconnais-tu la voix’
Le Voyage dans la Lune (1875) – ‘Je regarde vos jolis yeux’, ‘Ohé! Ohé!’
La Rose de Saint-Flour (1856) – ‘Chette marmite neuve’
Boule de neige (1871) – ‘Conspiration des guitares’
L’Île de Tulipatan (1868) – ‘Couplets du Canard’
La Boulangère a des écus (1875) – ‘Ce qu’j’ai?’, ‘Ah! Qu’il est beau’
Une Nuit blanche (1855) – ‘Allons, Fanchette… Aimons le vin’
Il Signor Fagotto (1863) – ‘Nous voilà seuls’
La Créole (1875) – ‘Berceuse’
Maître Peronilla (1878) – ‘Couplets des petits valets’
Le Fifre enchanté, ou Le Soldat magicien (1864) – ‘Oui, ce fifre’, ‘Ah! Pour moi’
Le Château à Toto (1868) – ‘Va-t-en donc’, ‘Entre nous’
Le Roi Carotte (1872) – ‘Ronde des chemins de fer’
Vert-Vert (1869)– ‘Barcarolle’
Boule de neige (1871) – ‘Chœur du lunch et Brindisi’
Belle Lurette (1880) – ‘Ronde et ensemble’ 

David Parry conductor
with Jennifer Larmore, Alastair Miles, Yvonne Kenny, Mark Stone, Diana Montague, Laura Claycomb, Elizabeth Vidal, Colin Lee, Loic Felix, Mark Wilde, Cassandre Berthon, Mark le Brocq, Alexandra Sherman, Andre Cognet.

Born into a Jewish family in Cologne, the young Offenbach moved to Paris at the age of 14 and was to remain there, in effect, for the rest of his life, becoming naturalized as a French citizen in 1860. During the reign of Emperor Louis Napoleon (1852-1870), Paris became the entertainment capital of Europe, entering an era of hedonism, permissiveness and affluence. Dubbed by Rossini the “Mozart of the Champs-Élysées, Jacques Offenbach made a big impact on Parisian theatre during this period, his name becoming synonymous with witty and entertaining operettas that satirized the social mores and leading figures of the time. [. . . ]
Offenbach’s popularity in Paris dwindled in the early 1870s. the fall of the Second Empire which he had satirised, and the collapse of his collaboration with the librettists Meilhac and Halévy, brought a large chapter of his career to an end. But Offenbach, a musical magpie with a great facility for writing in different styles, reinvented himself. He cultivated different genres, such as the opéra-féérie – works characterised by supernatural themes and remarkable visual effects, such as Le Roi Carotte and Le Voyage dans la lune. Other pieces, such as La Jolie Parfumeuse and Belle Lurette, were operettas in the “charming” style that had brought success to his rival, the composer Charles Lecocq. [. . . ]
But among the forgotten works, there are so many musical treasures to be found. The fertility of Offenbach’s musical imagination was such that almost all of his operettas contained something that was memorable or highly applauded at the time. Some individual numbers were lifted out of context and enjoyed a life of their own, such as the once-popular chaconne from Monsieur et Madame Denis. Almost all of the operettas represented here tell us something about the time from which they came. A piece such as La Diva, the documentary-operetta on the life of the soprano Hortense Schneider, might seem like an improbablecuriosity to a 21st-century audience, yet who could forget the aching sadness, laced with dark humour, of the suicide-song “L’air, disait-il”?

©Nicholas Jenkins, 2007