June 20, 1819
October 5, 1880 in Paris, France
Also Known As:
His real name was Jacob Offenbach, one of the composers who helped develop and define the operetta. An operetta is a type of opera that has spoken dialogue and sentimental themes mixed with dance, music and songs. Offenbach was married to Herminie d’Alcain in 1844.
Type of Compositions:
Offenbach is most known for his French operettas; he wrote more than 100 stage works.
His father was Isaac Juda Eberst, a cantor at a Cologne synagogue. The surname Offenbach was actually taken from Offenbach am Main, Isaac's hometown. Isaac took Jacques and his other son Julius to Paris in 1833 where Jacques entered the Paris Conservatoire to study cello. After leaving the conservatory, Jacques became cellist at the Opéra-Comique and became conductor at the Théâtre Français in 1850. Five years later, he opened his own theatre and changed its name from Theatre Comte to Bouffes-Parisiens.
His more than 100 stage works include "Orphée aux enfers," "Les Contes d'Hoffmann," "Gaîté Parisienne," "Die Rheinnixen," "Genevieve de Brabant," "La Belle Hélène," "La vie parisienne," "La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein," "La Périchole" and "Théâtre de la Gaîté."
Offenbach managed the Bouffes-Parisiens from 1855 to 1866 and it was here where many of his operettas were performed. He also directed the Théâtre de la Gaîté from 1872 to 1876. His opera Les Contes d’Hoffmann, which was based on E.T.A. Hoffman's stories, was left unfinished when he died.
Listen to the overture of Jacques Offenbach's "Orphée aux enfers" courtesy of YouTube