Jacques Offenbach

Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld

            Offenbach, in many ways, was the model for today’s famously scandalous and widely admired pop musicians.  One has to remember the essential differences between the nature of the nineteenth-century (and earlier) musical public and what it heard, on the one hand, and today’s fragmented, vivid, and incredibly diverse musical tastes.   There really wasn’t much of anything like “popular” music until the advent of musical theatre, and other influences, like ragtime, sheet music publication, and the early Edison machines later in the century.  No one may be said to have had as singular an influence in effecting this new addition to the musical scene as that of Jacques Offenbach and his operettas.  His devilish skill at skewering icons of culture with sparkling, witty, and adroit ca