About This Show
Composers Datebook™ is a daily two-minute program designed to inform, engage, and entertain listeners with timely information about composers of the past and present. Each program notes significant or intriguing musical events involving composers of the past and present—with appropriate and accessible music related to each.
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Offenbach puts a critic to work
1 day ago
In the year 1858, the Parisian composer Jacques Offenbach was, as usual, busy writing his next operetta and avoiding his creditors. He found it expedient to work in hotel rooms rather than at home, where he ran the risk of being cornered by bill collectors. Offenbach hoped that maybe, just maybe, one big box office success might clear his debts — and enable him to reupholster the tattered seats in his theater, Les Bouffes-Parisiens.
On today's date in 1858, the audience in those tattered seats saw the premiere performance of Offenbach's latest work — a farcical send-up of an old Greek myth. "Orpheus in the Underworld" was, in fact, a modest success, and ran well for several weeks.
But just as the production would in the normal course of events be closing, an important Parisian music critic attended a performance, and was shocked, SHOCKED that Offenbach and company made fun of something so noble and edifying as Greek mythology. His outraged review appeared and soon generated a lively debate, especially when Offenbach slyly inserted direct quotes from the review into the operetta itself!
Suddenly "Orpheus in the Underworld" was the hottest ticket in Paris.
And even better than paying for new upholstery, one tune from the show, an infectious 'Infernal Galop" would, as M. Offenbach's celebrated "Can-Can," become a world famous melody practically synonymous with Paris itself.
Rated 5 out of
Daily Classical Music Update
A couple minutes of daily knowledge about classical composers. Topical and timely. Always learning something new.
Date published: 2014-05-08