Dance in Jacques Offenbach’s Théâtre musical léger – Between Imagination, Improvisation and Choreography

Stephanie Schroedter
"Musical Theatre in Europe 1830–1945," edited by Michela Niccolai & Clair Rowden
Turnhout: Brepolis 2017

Jacques Offenbach could not have asked for a better way to curry favour for theatre priveleges than by publishing a small collection of ten dances for piano solo, entitled Décaméron dramatique. Album du Théâtre Français (1855) [1]. These dances were based on orchestral interludes for theatre performances, which he composed between 1849 and 1855 when he was musical director for the Comédie-Française. Comprising two grandes valses, two polkas and two polka-mazurkas, one redowa and one varsovienne as well as two Scottish dances, they represent a fashionable repertory of salon dances at that time.

Cover of Jacques Offenbach's "Décaméron dramatique. Album du Théâtre Français."

Cover of Jacques Offenbach’s “Décaméron dramatique. Album du Théâtre Français.”

Offenbach dedicated them to actresses whom he had met during his work at the Comédie-Française and who had ‘closer’ connections to important members of the cultural-political life of Paris during the Second Empire (among them none other than Napoléon III). Each dance was entitled with reference to the first name of one of these ladies of varying influence, and was supplied with a short dedicatory poem written by leading writers and journalists including: Arsène Houssaye; Alexandre Dumas; Théophile Gauthier; Alfred du Musset; and Camille Doucet, head of the Theatre Department of the State Ministry.

The publication of this collection was a great success; it enabled Offenbach to open his Bouffes-Parisiens in the summer of 1855, in immediate temporal and spatial proximity to the first Parisian World Exhibition. This small but increasingly popular theatre at the Champs-Elysées allowed him to stage short pieces with, initially, up to three actors, small ballets, and pantomimes, and song recitals.[2] Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that Offenbach included obligatory dances in his theatre compositions, even if they were just ‘imaginary’, that is, audible but not necessarily visible, lacking a comprehensive choreography.

Already his early opéra comique Pépito for the Théâtre des Variétés (1853) [3] opens with a bolero-imbued overture, just as, soon afterwards, Vertigo’s “Air bouffe” is subtly grounded in bolero-rhythms, which were quickly equated with variant forms of the fandango [4].

Later on Vertigo has to prove his dancing skills to a serenade, which briefly switches into waltz rhythms (3/4 allegro maestoso), although the protagonist declares them as a cachucha. It seems likely that there was no choreography developed for this scene, but that the dance impetus was implied by improvisation [5]. Thus Offenbach established a model for the use of dance in his buffonesque theatre compositions, which was to be used time and again; dance movement develops directly from dance grounded in vocals, so that it seems to be primarily a musical phenomenon, albeit with an obligatory narrative (following the example of opéra comique compositions). Based on this model Offenbach initially develops dance scenes, small to start withand later more expansive, in which music is directly understood as movement. Thus dance develops as a logical consequence of the musical event; it intensifies the latter by becoming also visually recognisable. Audible emotions become visible motions, in order to add even more striking contours to the vocals. Therefore the presentation of advanced dancing skills or even dance for the sake of dance itself would be fundamentally misplaced in this context.

Drawing for the cover of the piano-vocal score of Jacques Offenbach's "Les deux aveugles."

Drawing for the cover of the piano-vocal score of Jacques Offenbach’s “Les deux aveugles.”

In the one-act “Bouf­fonnerie-musicale” Les Deux Aveugles, which was performed on the occasion of the opening of the Bouffes-Parisiens (1855), once again a vocal number in bolero rhythms is the heart and basis of success of this piece. It also manifests the topos of the Spanish couleur locale, to which Offenbach always adds a touch of irony [6]. Here a small ballet ensemble as well as a pantomime were introduced for the first time [7].

Also remarkable is the quotation of the Sicilienne from Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable in the finale, with which a further charac­teristic of Offenbach’s opéra-bouffe compositions is established; the prevalent Meyerbeer-reception, with which he intended to suggest a relationship between his compositions and ‘great opera’ productions[8], though with an unmistakeable wink.

The “Légende bretonne” Le Violoneux, which was performed only two months later (1855), as well as incorporating vividly marching rhythms [9], makes allusions to Adolphe Adam’s La Poupée de Nurem­berg (1852), and so reaffirms a prominent example of dance imaginations; the anticipation of a ball which will never be seen on stage has triggered the vivacious dancing mood of the protagonist [10]. A similar case takes place in Ba-ta-clan, a “Chinoiserie musicale en un acte”, with which Offenbach officially opened the new location of his Bouffes-Parisiens in the Passage Choiseul in December 1855.

Yearning for the distant dance metropolis of Paris, the protagonists perform vivid dance vocal numbers; they are mainly imaginings, perhaps emphasised with some dance improvisations [11]. Similarly in the one-act “Opérett” Le 66 (1856), Grittly and Frantz evoke homely feelings with a Tyrolienne, which Offenbach used almost as often as the bolero in his opera compositions [12]. Also in the “Opérette bouffe en un acte” Croquefer ou Le Dernier des paladins (1857) the dancing assets of the French cultural capital are persistently sung about, accompanied by their respective dance rhythms[13]. Furthermore, familiar topoi of the grand opéra are not only cited, but also effectively caricatured by their abrupt succession: drinking songs or even bacchanalian exuberance; vivacious dancing; and brave determination to fight [14].

The one-act “Opérette-bouffe” Monsieur Choufleuri restera chez lui le … (1861), which can be described as a Bourgeois Gentil­homme of the Second Empire, again not only consists of obligatory dance allusions but also of subtle references to ‘big’ opera compo­sitions.

After Babylas and Ernestine have sealed their mutual love with a bolero [15], which is a lovingly ironic comment on the passionate Spanish way of life, Ernestine conjures up her lover in a dark-romantic “Mystère” [16], which is reminiscent of Meyerbeer’s Ballet of the Nuns. It raises Babylas to be the one and only saviour who can prevent the doomed disaster of her father’s feast.

After her father has been persuaded to change his mind by the help of this spectacle, having resisted the lovers’ union due to family politics, the dark-mysterious melody turns into lively dance rhythms (3/8 alle­gro) [17], oscillating between a waltz and a Ländler, which sweeps away all the host’s sorrows about his social status and honour. After an unobtrusive galoppade, with which the invited guests rush towards the happy event [18], the (allegedly) noble society occasion is introduced by a grave minuet imitation (3/4 moderato) [19], followed by a Trio Italien [20], which is representative of the sophisticated Italian singing technique [21]. The private ‘opera performance’ in the house of Monsieur Choufleuri (a ‘mise en abyme’ within this opérette bouffe) inevitably ends with the very bolero that symbolises the love of Babylas and Ernestine [22].

Waltz rhythms are part of the standard vocabulary of Offenbach’s opéra bouffe. Striking examples can be found in: the “Opérette-bouffe” Le Financier et le savetier (1856) [23], in which a ballet is also used as a silent background choir (of which probably the waltz was performed between duo no. 2 and no. 3) [24]; and in Un Mari à la porte (1859), a one-act “Opérette”, in which the waltz-like introduction [25] is followed by yet another intro­ductory waltz as no. 1 (3/4 allegro moderato) [26], again followed by a valse Tyrolienne of the protagonist Rosita as no. 2 [27], before once again waltz rhythms sound in the final “Couplet au public” [28], but this time interrupted by brief bolero sequences.

Also permeated with waltz rhythms is Geneviève de Brabant (first version 1859, second version 1867, third version 1875), based on Orphée aux enfers, which was initially a two-act “Opéra-bouffon”, then a three-act “Opéra-bouffe”, and finally a five-act “Opéra-féerie” [29]. They underlie the number “Les Baigneuses” in the second tableau [30] (a link to Meyer­beer’s Les Huguenots), as well as the Entr’acte no. 19 [31], and the introduction of the sixth tableau [32], which is the prelude to the final ball at Golo’s, thus the final ballet of this opera in its third version.

Furthermore, “La Bohémienne”, which is played at the beginning of this huge feast at Golo’s, is less a “Bohemienne gypsy dance” like Meyerbeer’s “Danse bohémien­ne” (again in Les Huguenots), but more a galop in disguise, like the “Chœur de la danse” (“Danse Générale conduite par La Bohémien­ne”) [33] that follows, for which this rhythm (based on Meyerbeer’s model) is actually appropriate.

Quite original, and mixed with typical irony, is the intertwining of these dances with a (supposedly) Folie d’Espagne, where the gypsy colouring again echoes Offenbach’s often cited Spanish fashion (and not Meyerbeer’s preference for bohemian folk dance/music traditions). This irony is also shown in the final ball of the third version of Geneviève de Brabant by a “Tyrolienne Orientale Andante & Variations” as a kind of ‘exotic’ valse, before the ball ends with an obligatory “Galop final” [34]. In order to supply the audience with popular movement topoi of the time, the “Chœur des Bohémiens” (no. 22) from the three-act “Opéra-bouffe” Barbe-Bleue (1866) is also grounded in waltz rhythms [35], lively contrasted by the intertwining of a march (2/2 allegro marziale) with a galop (2/4 très vite) in the first finale (no. 9), [36] resulting in a mixture of discipline and unleashing [37].

The original stars of "Barbe-bleue": Hortense Schneider and the tenor Dupuis, caricature by Gill in "L'Eclipse."

The original stars of “Barbe-bleue”: Hortense Schneider and the tenor Dupuis, caricature by Gill in “L’Eclipse.”

The “Ronde des Clercs” (no. 4) from La Chanson de Fortunio (1861), even though designed as opéra comique, is once again a reminder of Les Huguenots – it is followed by a “Valse des Clercs” with a tendency to bitter irony [38]. The madness scene in the two-act, later four-act “Opéra-bouffon” Le Pont des soupirs (first version 1861, second version 1868) [39], which hints at Meyerbeer’s Le Pardon de Ploërmel, is followed by a brisk bolero, which seems rather out of place in Venice, where the story is set [40]. The carnivalesque confusion of this opéra bouffon[41], which also suggests a ballet [42], relativizes this certainly well calculated irritation. The three-act “Opéra-bouffe” Les Brigands (1869) is also set somewhere between Italy and Spain. Its overture is interspersed with restrained bolero rhythms [43] and thus prepares for the “Entrée des Espag­nols” [44] in act II, which is accompanied by castanets and tambourine. A spirited, almost breathless, saltarello [45] is followed by an “Orgie” [46] in the finale of act I, thus again transferring a topos of contemporary grand opera and ballet productions into the opéra bouffe. The choir of the chronically tardy carbineers that follows is a fascinating march-like composition that creates a movement paradox, by slowing down the spirited dynamics through pauses with obligatory regularity [47].

An extremely distinctive combination of imaginary movement suggestions can also be found in the three-act “Opéra-bouffe” La Périchole (first version 1868, second version 1874) [48]. The introduction “Chanson des Trois-Cousines” [49] is based on waltz rhythms, which shortly afterwards is followed by a “Marche indienne” (in 5/4 time), [50] reminiscent of Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine.

The latter’s exoticism is pushed further into an absurd “Complainte” of “L’Espag­nol et la jeune Indienne” [51] by discreetly alienated bolero rhythms (in 4/4 time) as well as by the subsequent galloping seguidilla (“Le Muletier et la jeune Personne”) [52]. But this is still not the end of dance extravagance; the “Cancans-Couplets” of act II are based on waltz rhythms [53], just as the “Griserie-Ariette” and the Entr’acte no. 9 are composed in lively triple metre [54]. Also, whereas in the “Chœur des Saltim­ban­ques” the missing acrobatic movement is compensated by singing [55], the “Marche des Palan­quins” [56] and the “Galop de L’Arresta­tion” [57] once more provide intriguing movement plasticity.

A play with renowned dance rhythms also characterizes the three-act “Opéra-bouffe” La Princesse de Trébizonde (1869). After a “Chœur des Saltimbanques” and “Chœur de Chasseurs” [58] as movement choirs in the further periphery of the chœur dansé, the “Couplet de la Canne” [59] is grounded in waltz rhythms, which textually embrace a cancan [60]. The “Chœur de Sortie” is also interspersed with waltz rhythms [61], whereas the final grand galop boasts with an elaborate monosyllabic counterpoint of rich vocals; here “tatarata tataratata” and “zing boum zing boum” compete against one another [62].

The three-act “Opéra-bouffe” Les Géorgiennes (1864) seems to be a parody of the women marching in military style in numerous ballets pantomimes, while also heralding the girl-shows of the turn of the century.In this sense it prepares the ground for later revues, though in rather farcical manner, as can be seen for instance in the choir of the tarantella-dancing gypsy women, which adds Italian to the well known Spanish and Bohemian gypsy local colour [63].

These examples, to name but a few, sufficiently demonstrate that Offen­bach’s opéra bouffe is greatly imbued by dancing elements (due to its rootedness in the French music theatre and particularly its propinquity to the opéra comique) – even though, or perhaps because, it had to manage without lavish stagings and extensive choreo­graphies. Even more crucial than this fundamental difference to Grand opéra productions though, which repeatedly offered material for buffonesque adaptation of its music-dramatic repertory, is the fact that one is increasingly under the impression that the protagonists in Offenbach’s operas are not really dancing, when they are dancing. Instead they ‘are danced’, that is they cannot help but to submit themselves to a movement impulse which originates less in themselves but forces its way into them through the music.

This is what makes them symptomatic products of the Second Empire, during which the dancing activism of the July Monarchy gradually turned into a lethargy, in which one preferred to drift or to be carried away (into the dancing undergrounds of the city), rather than to arouse opposition (based on the forces of dance), which had become hopeless anyway.

Thus it seems only right that Offenbach’s first full-evening composition with extensive dance scenes leads from Olympus (which of course is no longer what it used to be) directly into the underworld with its far more attractive hustle and bustle. Orphée aux enfers, which had its premiere in 1858 as two-act “Opéra-bouffon” and was expanded in 1874 into a four-act “Opéra-féerie”, for which I recently located dance notations by Henri Justamant.

The introduction begins with the ‘divine’ minuet, the end of which forms the prelude to the legendary galop, which not only sets up the infernal ending [64], but also establishes the transformation of a galop to a cancan, making this dance acceptable for the theatre. The “Ballet pastoral” from act I of the second version of Orphée aux enfers [65] included two polkas from his Déca­méron dramatique (the “Polka Villageoise” Made­­leine and the “Polka Trilby” Elisa), which fill the peaceful tryst with some mock naivety. A march-like contrast to this is the Stretta-finale of act I in the second version [66], preceded by an “Entrée des Élèves d’Orphée” and a “Valse des Petites Violonistes” [67]. In the “Divertissement des Songes et des Heures” at the beginning of act II in the second version [68], strokes of a bell repeatedly interrupt the lyrical tranquillity of Olympus in order to wake up its inhabitants. This ringing brings to mind the bell strokes from the wedding ball of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots, which give the signal for the Catholic massacre of the Protestants. Therefore, whereas in Les Huguenots the ringing heralds an act of boundless cruelty, the bells in Orphée aux enfers are an invitation to a fun-filled catastrophe – of course motivated by resignation, since the political circum­stances are no less hopeless, although much better concealed than in Les Huguenots.

The breathlessly hastening “Rondo-Saltarelle” of Mercure from the second version [69] induces an equally agitated and tense atmosphere at the end of this act. The latter increases in the finale of act I of the first version or of act II in the second version. It starts with a hesitant entry, followed by a march-like determined “Il ap­proche, il s’avance” over the emphatically reverent in-unison call “Gloire, gloire à Jupiter […]” with the jointly chanted “Partons, partons, partons, la la la la la la partons, marchons, parton, marchons, ah!”, then finally a stirring galop, with which the inhabitants of Mount Olympus make their way into the underworld in style [70].

In the finale of act III of the second version the whipped-up galop of the “Ballet des mouches” [71], which, with its ‘gender swap’ of the insects, is a travesty of the then popular “Pas de l’abeilles”, is in contrast to the vivid couplet “Quand j’étais roi” of Böotien’s King, which again can be interpreted as a parody of Adophe Adam’s Si J’étais Roi. Another juxtaposition of apparently disparate opposites, which are, in the end, mutually dependent, is the sweet harmony-evoking minuet (“Le menuet n’est vraiment si charmant”) with the galop alias cancan (“Ce bal est original, d’un galop infernal”) [72] that immediately follows. This combination of contrasting dances nods to the minuet with the subsequent chœur dansé in the galoppade’s dynamics (again) from Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots. Of course this scene also belongs to the topos of the bacchanalia or, more specifically, orgies which were so often used in contemporary operas and ballets.

Dance notations for the staging of "Le Quadrille Cancan" from Jacques Offenbach’s "Orphée aux enfers" at the London Royal Alhambra Theatre (premiere, 30 April 1877) as well as the revival at the Parisian Théâtre de la Gaîté (premiere, 15 January 1878). (Photo: Archive Stephanie Schrödter)

Dance notations for the staging of “Le Quadrille Cancan” from Jacques Offenbach’s “Orphée aux enfers” at the London Royal Alhambra Theatre (premiere, 30 April 1877) as well as the revival at the Parisian Théâtre de la Gaîté (premiere, 15 January 1878). (Photo: Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung des Instituts für Medienkultur und Theater auf Schloss Wahn)

Due to fortunate circumstances of dance historiography, choreographic drafts survived referring to a production of Orphée aux Enfers at the London Royal Alhambra Theatre (premiere April 30, 1877) as well as to a revival at the Parisian Théâtre de la Gaité (premiere January 15, 1878), written by the choreographer and dance notator [73] Henri Justamant, who was extremely active in the French provinces as well as in many Parisian theatres, including the Opéra/Salle Le Peletier. [74]

Dance notations for the staging of "Le Quadrille Cancan" from Jacques Offenbach’s "Orphée aux enfers" at the London Royal Alhambra Theatre (premiere, 30 April 1877) as well as the revival at the Parisian Théâtre de la Gaîté (premiere, 15 January 1878). (Photo: Archive Stephanie Schrödter)

Dance notations for the staging of “Le Quadrille Cancan” from Jacques Offenbach’s “Orphée aux enfers” at the London Royal Alhambra Theatre (premiere, 30 April 1877) as well as the revival at the Parisian Théâtre de la Gaîté (premiere, 15 January 1878). (Photo: Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung des Instituts für Medienkultur und Theater auf Schloss Wahn)

They include notations for the “Ballet Pastoral” with “[Bergers,] Bergères et Faunes” from act I of the second version, the “Ballet des heures” with a “Variation de l’Aurore” from act II as well as the “Ballet des Mouches” in act III of the second version [75] and finally “Le Menuet” and “Le Quadrille Cancan” from act IV, the very “Bacchanale” that had already been included in the first version. The fact that Justamant added stage directions (“Mise en scène”) to his dance notations proves once more that the production as a whole was no less important than the choreography – especially since the latter was kept rather simple; the minuet’s dance vocabulary is mainly restricted to simple “Pas marches”, “Change­ments de pieds” and turns. Perhaps to make it more terpsichorean, Jupiter and Pluton are both played by one woman from the corps de ballet of eight Bacchants on the “Praticable” bridging the Styx.

The Interior of the Alhambra Theatre of Varieties, London 1897.

The Interior of the Alhambra Theatre of Varieties, London 1897.

A pantomime scene is included to brighten up the tone, in which the men seem to beseech their ladies, whereupon the latter back off and cover their faces with their hands. For the performance of the “Quadrille Cancan” it is noticeable that during the first ritornell the scene is mainly set into motion by the choir, causing a mass movement, whereas in the second part of the galop the female Bacchantes, members of the corps de ballet, dance a cancan.

Gustave Doré's vision of the „Galop infernal“, as seen 1858 in Paris.

Gustave Doré’s vision of the „Galop infernal“, as seen 1858 in Paris.

Although there are no concrete hints as to its defining high kicks (probably Justamant expected this dance was generally known), one should not conclude that this was already the late form of the quadrille cancan as highly stylized French cancan. The idea was more to express an improvised exuberance by high flying legs – just as many contemporary engravings depict this kind of frolic in the Bal de l’Opéra.

"Le Bal masqué de l’opéra," caricature from "Le Journal Illustré," 28 January 1877. (Bibliothèque-Musée de l’Opéra)

“Le Bal masqué de l’opéra,” caricature from “Le Journal Illustré,” 28 January 1877. (Bibliothèque-Musée de l’Opéra)

Against this backdrop, it might be surprising that Offenbach did not provide his three-act La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (1867) with a bigger ballet, although the usual dance elements accompanying the plot provide especially refined nuances. The opening general dance of joy with its country-style touch (“quelques soldats valsent avec des paysannes”) [76] is meant as a parody of contemporary ballet dramaturgy, which for the most part offered harmless introduction sequences similar to this. Whereas in Giselle (which Offenbach quotes here with a wink) a respectable representative of the nobility (Albert, Duke of Silesia) destroys the peaceful country life, Offenbach chose for his opera bouffe a lady as the (intentionally or unintentionally) destructive element, who is far from being taken seriously as a member of the privileged society circles (if such circles were still taken seriously at all in the theatre and beyond).

Unlike the ball scene in Auber’s Gustave, ou Le Bal masque, in which the marches emphasize the (undoubtedly already crumbling) authority of the monarch at least superficially, the military marches celebrating the Grand Duchess are characterized by affectation and repetitive mindlessness, thus signalling the keyed-up scenario [77].

In principle, comparable with Auber’s Gustave, ou Le Bal masqué, is the ball scene in Grande-Duchesse, in which a murder is planned – this time not initiated by a deceived husband who joins a group of political revolutionaries for private reasons, but from a rejected female lover, namely the Grand Duchess, who was turned down by soldier Fritz. Hurt and enraged she joins ranks with a party of noblemen who are worried about losing their power and privileges. And whereas in Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots bells strike during the minuet at the wedding ball (imploring the ‘old’ times and rules), signalling the beginning of a cruel massacre, a glockenspiel is played in Grande-Duchesse in a comparable passage, the ball celebrating the notarial marriage ceremony between Fritz and Wanda. It serves as the signal for the planned murder, its “Carillon de ma grand-mère” initially mimicking the innocent sound of history’s eternal round dance.

It not only reminds one (as is the conspirators’ intention) of the repetition of private events and family history [78], but above all alludes to the eternal circle of political irresponsibility, motivated by the urge to implement private agendas by every means. Against this backdrop it is not surprising that the lovely round dance gradually turns into a wild cancan [79].

Regardless of the tragedy behind this entertainingly-staged parody of bitter reality, the caricaturesque dance frenzy of the opéra bouffe cannot convey the drama of the dance catastrophes of the grand opéra. However this subdued drama of the opéra bouffe, lost halfway through, is probably even more tragic. The fact that the duchess distances herself all of a sudden from her murderous cravings, since she is not capable of deep emotions and thus turns to other men instead (“Quand on n’a pas ce que l’on aime, il faut aimer ce que l’on a”) [80], is probably more deplorable than the fate of many protagonists of the grand opéra, who are willing to fight unconditionally for something they are convinced of (and thus might fall victim to blind fanaticism). Therefore it seems appropriate that the wedding of the Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein opens with a breathlessly frantic galop, which tops the general emotional chaos[81].

Even more to the point is Offenbach’s five-act “Opéra-bouffe” La Vie parisienne (1866), which proves the essentially dramatic and dramaturgic importance of dance for this genre as both an entertainingly amusing and (paradoxically) sobering reflection of urban real-life experiences – without the inevitable need for rich sceneries. The staged ballroom-dance scenes are no longer characterized by artistically moved, huge tableaus, rather they are expressions of outer and inner dynamics by which representatives of all social classes are overcome (the bounds of which had become very permeable by then). This new and specifically urban dynamic causes a whirl of rapidly evolving events that finally sweeps away all participants. He who initially thought he could control his fate and fortune (like the canny Raoul de Gardefeu), will not obtain his goal in the end. Instead of a bitter tragedy or a happy ending the opera ends with a diffuse dance frenzy that evens everything out.

Whereas the dance scenes of the grand opéra based on Meyerbeer’s model were still integrated into the dramatic context and motivated by catastrophes, and the opéra comique was grounded in a plot with mostly elegant or at least light, jolly dancing elements, the opéra bouffe establishes an omnipresent movement style based on psychological reasoning. The latter exposes caricatures of Parisian society life, which move between various ‘etablissements’, to turbulences that permanently revolve around themselves, thus creating an unstoppable momentum of their own. Dance is now performed above all as an intoxicatingly monotonous movement dynamic revolving around itself – beyond choreographically refined plays with forms and figures. The protagonists no longer follow their own will to dance, rather they ‘are danced’, that is they abandon themselves passively to dance, encouraged by the musical dynamics. This does not only repeal political rules but also has an impact on the formerly secure private life, which gets increasingly out of control [82].

Accordingly the wild dance frenzy in the finale of act III of La Vie parisienne is characterized by a pivoting movement to the brink of consciousness, which in its excess, the final gallop that follows, does not lead to (productive) expansion of the mind (as is the case in the opéra comiques), but to plain unconsciousness: “Tout tourne, tourne, tour­ne, tout danse, danse, danse, Et voilà, déjà, Que ma tête s’en va!” [83] The driving force of the action is therefore the music – music that can neither be reduced to serve as mere accompaniment nor as illustrative means. Instead it incorporates the movement momentum, thus ‘corporalizing’ dance musically. Music becomes if not a visible, nonetheless a clearly audible dance, which pulls everyone along; no one can resist it – not even those beyond the stage.

This article appeared as “Dance in Jacques Offenbach’s Musical Theatre: Between Imagination, Improvisation and Choreography” in: Musical Theatre in Europe 1830–1945, edited by Michela Niccolai and Clair Rowden. Turnhout: Brepols 2017 (Speculum musicae vol. 30), p. 91–111. 

Vocal scores of compositions by Jacques Offenbach

Barbe-Bleue, Opéra-bouffe (1866), vocal score E. Gérard & Cie. (Ancienne Maison Meissonnier), Paris [1866] [C. M. 10 459]

Croquefer ou Le Dernier des paladins, Opérette-bouffe en un acte (1857), vocal score Paris [1857] [Heugel et Cie. H. 2056]

Décaméron dramatique. Album du Théâtre Français (1855) ed. by Jean-Christoph Keck, Berlin (Boosey & Hawkes / Bote & Bock) 2002

Geneviève de Brabant, Opéra féerie (1875), Morceaux supplémentaires, vocal score Paris [1875] [Heugel et Cie. H. 3610]

Geneviève de Brabant, Opéra-bouffe (1867), vocal score Paris [1868] [Heugel et Cie. H. 3610]

Geneviève de Brabant, Opéra-bouffon (1859), vocal score Paris [1860] [Heugel et Cie H. 2528]

La Chanson de Fortunio, Opéra comique (1861), vocal score Paris [1861] [Heugel et Cie. H. 2714]

La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, Opéra-bouffe (1867), vocal score with lyrics Paris [1867] [Brandus/Dufour B. et D. 11.211], libretto Paris: Calmann-Lévy [1885]

La Périchole, Opéra-bouffe (second version 1874) vocal score Paris [1874] [Brandus et Dufour B. et D. 11 428]

La Princesse de Trébizonde, Opéra-bouffe (1869), vocal score Paris [1870], [Brandus et Dufour B. et D. 11.601]

La Vie parisienne, Opéra-bouffe (1866), vocal score Paris: Heu [1866] [E. H. 742]

La Vie parisienne, Opéra-bouffe (1866), new critical edition of the vocal score, ed. by Jean-Christophe Keck (Offen­bach Edition Keck), Berlin [2002] [Boosey & Hawkes/Bote & Bock],

Le 66 (1856), Opérette (1856), vocal score Paris [1856] [Heugel et Cie. H. 1911]

Le Financier et le savetier, Opérette-bouffe, (1856) vocal score Paris [1856] [Heugel H. et Cie. H. 1932]

Le Pont des soupirs, Opéra-bouffon” (1861), vocal score Paris [1861] [Gérard & Cie (Ancienne Maison Meissonnier) C. M. 9483]

Le Violoneux, Légende bretonne (1855), vocal score Paris [1881] [Brandus B. et Cie. 12.614]

Les Brigands, Opéra-bouffe (1869), vocal score Paris [1870] [Colombier C. 3447]

Les Deux Aveugles, Bouf­fonnerie-musicale (1855), vocal score Paris [1879] [Brandus B. et Cie. 12.542]

Les Géorgiennes, Opéra-bouffe (1864), vocal score Paris [1864] [Bertin et Cie. B. 208]

Monsieur Choufleuri restera chez lui le …, Opérette-bouffe (1861), vocal score Paris [1861] [Heugel et Cie H. 4608]

Orphée aux enfers, Opéra-bouffon (1858), new critical edition of the vocal score, ed. by Jean-Christophe Keck (Offen­bach Edition Keck), Berlin [2002] [Boosey & Hawkes/Bote & Bock]

Orphée aux enfers, Opéra-bouffon (1858), vocal score Paris [1858] [Heugel et Cie. 2372]

Orphée aux enfers, Opéra-féerie (1874), vocal score Paris [1874] [Heugel et Cie. H. 4425]

Pépito, Opéra comique (1853), vocal score Paris [1854] [Etienne Challiot E.C. 1516]

Un Mari à la porte (1859), Opérette, vocal score Paris [1859] [Heugel et Cie. H. 247]


Atwood, Robert and Claudia Jeschke. ‘Expanding Horizons: Techniques of Choreo-Graphy in Nineteenth-Century Dance’, in: Dance Chronicle. Studies in Dance and the Related Arts, 29/2 (2006), pp. 195–214.

Heinzelmann, Josef. ‘Offenbach:Croquefer ou Le Dernier des paladins (1857)’, in: ENZY, vol. 4, pp. 494–496.

Jeschke, Claudia. ‘La Métropolisation de la danse. Les Ballets d’Henri Justament dans Les Parisiens à Londres, in: Les Arts de la scène à l’épreuve de l’histoire. Les Objets et les méthodes de l’historio­graphie des spectacles produits sur la scène française (1635–1906), ed. by Roxane Martin und Marina Nordera, Paris 2011, pp. 345–356.

Jeschke, Claudia, Nicole Haitzinger and Gabi Vettermann. Inter­aktion und Rhythmus. Zur Modellierung von Fremdheit im Tanztheater des 19. Jahrhunderts, Munich 2010.

Jeschke, Claudia, Nicole Haitzinger and Gabi Vettermann. Les Choses Espagnoles. Research into the Hispanomania of the 19th Century Dance, Munich 2009.

Jeschke, Claudia. “Les Choses espagnoles: Hispanomanie in Tanztheorie und Choreographie”, in: Souvenirs de Taglioni. Bühnentanz in der ersten Hälfte ds 19. Jahrhunderts, vol. II, edited by Gunhild Oberzaucher-Schüller, Munich 2007, pp. 175–193.

Jeschke, Claudia. “Inszenierung und Verschrif­tung. Zu Aspekten der Choreographie und Choreo-Graphie im 19. Jahrhundert”, in: Theater ohne Grenzen. Festschrift für Hans-Peter Bayerdörfer zum 65. Geburtstag, ed. by Katharina Keim, Peter M. Boenisch and Robert Braunmüller, Munich 2003, pp. 256–265.

Klügel, Michael. “Offenbach: Les Deux aveugles (1855)”, in: ENZY, vol. IV, Munich 1991, pp. 489–490.

Klügel, Michael. “Offenbach: Mesdames de la Halle (1858)”, in: ENZY, vol. IV, Munich 1991, pp. 498–499.

Schroedter, Stephanie. Paris qui danse. Bewegungs- und Klangräume einer Großstadt der Moderne, Würzburg 2018.

Suárez-Pajares, Javier. “Seguidilla”, in: MGG2, Sachteil vol. VIII, Kassel 1998, col. 1232–1235.

Suárez-Pajares, Javier. “Bolero”, in: MGG2, Sachteil vol. II, Kassel 1995, col. 1–5.

Vettermann, Gabi. “Les Choses espagnoles: als Tanzlibretto”, in: Souvenirs de Taglioni. Bühnentanz in der ersten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts, vol. II, edited by Gunhild Oberzaucher-Schüller, Munich 2007, pp. 159–174.

Woitas, Monika. “Fandango”, in: MGG2, Sachteil vol. III, Kassel 1995, col. 308–315.

Yon, Jean-Claude. Jacques Offenbach. Paris 2010


ENZY: Piper Enzyklopädie des Musiktheaters, edited by Carl Dahlhaus and the Forschungsinstitut für Musiktheater der Universität Bayreuth under the direction of Sieghart Döhring, 7 vols., Munich 1986–1997.

[1] Cf. the new edition of this 1855 published collection [Heugel] in the critical complete edition of Jacques Offenbach’s compositions under the direction of Jean-Christoph Keck 2002 with an introduction by the editor, to which my following analysis refers.

[2] After Bat-ta-clan, a “Chinoiserie musicale en un acte” with four soloists, which already had its premiere at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens in the Salle Choiseul (1855), and Croquefer ou Le Dernier des paladins, an “Opérette-bouffe en un acte” with an (almost) mute role as fifth protagonist (1857), Mesdames de la Halles was the first piece (once more an “Opérette-bouffe en un acte”) in which the casting was unrestricted so that Offenbach was for the first time able to let ten people sing and act on stage. Cf. Klügel 1991b.

[3] For the genesis of this composition, its production and reception as well as the following productions by Offenbach see also Yon 2010, pp. 118.

[4] Cf. the lyrics in the vocal score Paris [1854], pp. 24: “Au boléro Viens mon Pédro Traderi deridera Au fandango Beau Vertigo Traderi déridera le boléro le fandango le boléro le fandango […]”. Whereas Suárez-Pajares emphasizes in his comments on the boléro mainly its affinity to older seguidillas, Woitas refers to a rhythmic congruence between boléro and fandango. The mentioned rhythmic models of the boléro and fandango which Suárez-Pajares and Woitas refer to, cannot be found in Offenbach’s work when it comes to evoking Spanish local flavour. In any case, he was not interested in recreating an illusion which was as realistic as possible (unlike Meyerbeer); instead the parodic nuance is more in the foreground. Cf. Suárez-Pajares 1995, Suárez-Pajares 1998, Woitas 1995.

[5] Cf. the overture pp. 2, and scene II, pp. 15, with a serenade (pp. 20), which comprises a little dance scene (“on danse”, p. 24, resp. “Vertigo danse sur cette ritournelle”, p. 26) and changes shortly into a waltz, the text of which containing plenty of vocals as in “[ca chu]cha lalalala lalala lalala” (p. 25).

[6] Cf. the vocal score Paris [1879], no. 3, pp. 13. This boléro hints at the piece’s ending once again, thus serving also as a frame to the plot, while at the same time being its central element.

[7] Klügel 1991a.

[8] Cf. the vocal score Paris [1879], no. 4 (6/8 allegro), pp. 18.

[9] Cf. the vocal score Paris [1881], the Duo no. 4, pp. 30, in which Reinette and Mathieu chant in a powerful 4/4 marziale “ra-ta-plan-plan-plan (etc.)”.

[10] Ibid., Duetto no. 2 by Reinette and Pierre, pp. 19: “et puis le soir, la-ri-ret-te, juques au jour l’on dansera” (2/4 Allegro poco vivo).

[11] Ibid., Duo no. 2 (3/8 allegro vivo), pp. 32: “Te souviens tu des Polkas de Mabille / Et de la Valse au bal de l’Opéra / De la gaité de notre vieux quadrille / De la Mazurk et de la Redowa / Te souviens tu te souviens tu ah … Dansons les danses de Paris, dansons dansons les danses de Paris …” And later on in the “Ronde de Florette” no. 4 (2/4), pp. 42: “Sautons, valsons, dansons, polkons, dansons, polkons mes amours / Sautons, valsons, dansons, polkons, dansons, polkons pour toujours …”

[12] Cf. vocal score Paris [1856], no. 2bis (3/8 Allegro), pp. 12: “Dans mon tyrol, dans mon tyrol, le pays si beau! … La, la, la, la, la, la … Ah ! ah! ah! ah! ah!”.

[13] Cf. vocal score Paris [1857], Duo no. 3 (3/8 allegro), pp. 42: “Allons au bal de l’opéra, connais tu, connais tu l’opéra? Et le can­can? Pauvre ange! à Paris! L’opéra! Tu verras, ça t’ira Paris pour l’opéra!” […] “Courons au bal de l’opéra! Trim, trim, lan dé ri dé ra! Viv’ l’opéra trim, trim, trim, lan de ri de da! Allons au bal de l’opéra, trim, trim, trim, trim, trim, trim trim, trim, trim …” – Soon after followed by the Galop no. 3bis (2/4 vivo), pp. 49: “Entends-tu le grélot du postil­lon au galop! Quel bruyant tourbillon le galop du postillon! Le galop du postillon … A la danse vois comme on s’élance; Viens, brillons, brillons au galop du postillon! […] trim, trim, trim, trim”. It is not surprising, that the Duo no. 3 of Ramass’ta Tête and Fleur-de-soufre (ibid., pp. 31), where they conjure up their ride to the Opéra, comprises a particularly large number of quotes from Grand opéra-compositions (Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable and Les Huguenots, Halévy’s La Juive and Donizetti’s Favorite). Cf. Heinzelmann 1991.

[14] Cf. e.g. the Chanson à boire (ibid., no. 4, pp. 75), followed by a Marche (no. 5, pp. 64), with a “Entrée des hommes d’armes”, “Entrée des cuisinières”, “Entrée des marmitons”, “Entrée de Croquefer à cheval”, “Entrée de Mousse-à-mort à cheval” and “Entrée de Boutefeu sur un âne” in close succession, before the main protagonists move galloping from the stage (no. 6, pp. 70).

[15] Cf. vocal score Paris [1861], no. 2, pp. 15.

[16] Ibid., Trio no. 4, pp. 23.

[17] Ibid., pp. 29.

[18] Ibid., Ensemble no. 5, Introduction pp. 40.

[19] Ibid., pp. 42: “Salut salut noble Mécene Salut cher protecteur des arts […]”.

[20] Ibid., no. 6, pp. 45.

[21] The unquestionable highlight of this spectacle is, when the respective men of the upper classes are directly addressed in order to give their blessing to the marriage of the young lady of the house with a lover who is supposedly unbefitting her social status. Emphasized by forceful wording (“patati, patata”) these men are being appealed to in an almost ceremonial incantation ritual: “Bellini, Rossini, Halévy, Poniatowski, Davidini, Heroldini, Wagnerini, Donizetti […]”, cf. ibid., pp. 56.

[22] Ibid., Finale no. 7, pp. 64: “Et l’on reprend pour finir le motif favori de l’Opéra”.

[23] The overture is already composed like a waltz right after the brief introduction (3/4 allegro moderato) cf. vocal score Paris [1856], pp. 2.

[24] Mouvement de valse, ibid., p. 20.

[25] Cf. vocal score Paris [1859], pp. 1.

[26] Ibid., p. 8.

[27] The wording of this Valse Tyrolienne emphasizes the fact that in this one-act operetta waltz rhythms take the form of mottos: “J’entends ma belle, la ritournelle aux sons si doux. La la la la la la la La valse est reine, son rhythme entraîne sages et fous La la la la la la Ah!” ibid., pp. 19.

[28] Ibid., no. 6, pp. 71.

[29] The directly following explanations refer to the first version, which can be found in the piano excerpt Paris [1860] .

[30] Ibid., no. 5, pp. 32.

[31] Ibid., pp. 135.

[32] Ibid., no. 20 (“Introduction et Chœur”), p. 137: This is not one of those numerous Chœur dansé which usually introduces a catastrophe (and is therefore based on the dynamics of a galoppade), it rather displays characteristics of a glorifying choir announcing the triumphant closing ceremony (bringing a solution for the conflicts), at the same time preparing the immediately upcoming dance event (the performance of the “Folies d’Espagnes”, personified Spanish dances so to speak, as well as “La Bohémienne” as exotic dance attraction).

[33] Ibid., no. 21, pp. 142 resp. no. 22, pp. 150.

[34] Cf. in the vocal score of “Morceaux supplémentaires” Paris [1875]: no. 26 “Les Enchanteresses” and the “Ballet du 4me Acte” with no. 1 “Valse” (3/4 tempo moderato), no. 2 “Bamboula” (2/4 allegretto), no. 3 “Sarrasins et Croisés. Tyrolienne orientale” (3/4 allegretto), no. 4 “La Rose et les Argonautes” (3/4 andantino, shortly afterwards with a change to a 2/4 marziale), no. 5 “Adage” (3/4 adagio), no. 6 “Galop final” (2/4 allegro vivo molto), pp. 45–76. Furthermore, a ballet was inserted as the finale of the first act in the third version: no. 5 until “Ballet comique des Nounous & Bébès” with a brief introduction (4/4 maestoso), no. 1 (2/4 allegretto), no. 2 (2/4 marziale), no. 3 (6/8 allegretto), no. 4 (2/4 allegretto), no. 5 “Galop” (2/4 très vite), ibid., pp. 13–28. Finally, the second version (a dancing extension of the first) has in the second act additionally a “Tyrolienne, chantée par MM. Gourdon, Lesage et Mlle. Vallière” (3/4 allegretto), which is followed by a “Ballet” (6/8 allegretto, 3/4 andante, 6/8 allegretto, 2/4 allegretto, 4/4 moderato, 2/4 galop), which again is followed by a “Farandole” (6/8 allegro vivo), cf. vocal score Paris [1868] no. 19, pp. 155, resp. no. 20, pp. 164, and no. 21, pp. 174.

[35] Cf. vocal score Paris [1866], pp. 269.

[36] Ibid., pp. 71.

[37] Please note the respective wording, which can hardly be performed without automatically using one’s body: “Hop! La! Hop! La! Hop! La […] Au galop! la! la! la! la! la! la! […] Sur ce, courons, trottons, trottons, toujours galo­­pons, au galop! Au galop! […] Allons, partons! Allons, marchons! Gai, gai, marions nous, le mariage est doux; Allons, partons! […] Chaud, chaud, partons gaiement, Il est impatient. […] Allons partons, marchons gaiement […] Oui au galop, au galop, au galop.” Ibid., pp. 97.

[38] Cf. also ist wording: “Toutes les femmes sont à nous, nous les verros à nos genoux”. Vocal score Paris [1861], pp. 51.

[39] The following refers to the first version as documented in the piano excerpt Paris [1861].

[40] Ibid., no. 7 “Le Rêve” (4/4 andante), pp. 69, and no. 8 “Scène de Folie et Boléro” (4/4 allegro), pp. 74.

[41] Ibid., no. 16 “Le Carnaval” (alla breve allegro), pp. 163.

[42] Ibid., no. 21 “Les Fanto­ccini” (6/8 allegro, followed by 2/4 allegro très modére), pp. 202.

[43] 3/4 allegro maestoso, shortly afterwards with a change to 2/4 allegro poco moderato, then 3/4 allegretto. Cf. vocal score Paris [1870], pp. 2.

[44] Ibid., no. 15 (as part of “B. Mélodrame et Scène”, 3/4 moderato), pp. 219.

[45] Ibid., no. 6 (6/8 allegro vivo), pp. 75.

[46] Ibid., no. 7c (3/8 allegro vivo), pp. 115.

[47] Ibid., no. 7d (4/4 allegro marziale), pp. 130, with the lyrics: “Nous sommes les carabiniers La sécurité des foyers Mais par un malheureux hasard Au secours des particuliers Nous arrivons nous arrivons nous arrivons toujours trop tard toujours trop tard”.

[48] The following discusses the second version, as published in the piano excerpt Paris [1874] by Léon Roques.

[49] Ibid., no. 1b (3/4 allegro vivo), pp. 11, with a reprise du Chœur, no. 1bis.

[50] Ibid., no. 3, p. 32.

[51] Ibid., no. 4, pp. 33.

[52] Ibid., no. 5 (2/4 allegro vivo), pp. 38.

[53] Ibid., no. 11 (3/4 alle­gro), pp. 117.

[54] Ibid., no. 8b “Griserie-Ariette” (3/4 andantino), pp. 66, Entr’acte no. 9 (3/4 allegro), pp. 105.

[55] Ibid., no. 6 (2/4 allegro), pp. 44.

[56] Ibid., no. 8d (4/4 allegro), pp. 82.

[57] Ibid., no. 14d (2/4 allegro vivo), pp. 147.

[58] Cf. vocal score Paris [1870], “Chœur de Saltimbanques”, pp. 12, “Chœur des Chasse[urs]” (both 2/4 allegro), pp. 108.

[59] Ibid., no. 9 (3/4 Vivo), pp. 129.

[60] Cf. the lyrics: “Qui de tout ça can-va-ne, Cor-bleu! La drôle de leçon lui flan-que-rait ma can-ne, lui flan-que-rait ma can-ne, ma ca-ne, ma can-ne, ma can-ne! Aux ca-naries, Au Ca-na-da, Aux Co-lo-nies, Et cœtera [sic] …”, ibid.

[61] Ibid., no. 15bis (3/4 allegro), pp. 198.

[62] Ibid., no. 18c (2/4 vivo), pp. 241.

[63] Cf. vocal score Paris [1864], no. 16 “Chœur: Nous sommes des Zingari”, 3/8 allegro moderato, pp. 191: “Nous sommes de pauvres Zingari didiridi dididirididi de pauvres Zingari. Nous venons de loin bien loin d’ici didiri­didi didirididi. Nous payerons en danse bouffonne. Nos pauvres corps sont disloqués. Ils ont une fièvre dansante […] Par le plus étrange prodige la tarentule nuit et jour nous donne une fièvre un vertige et nous dansons toujours […].”

[64] The further repetition of all the participants’ cancan at the end of the opera, which is introduced by a brilliant coloratura Eurydike’s reminds one of the dance imaginations of the Opéra comique. Cf. in the new critical edition of the vocal score of the first version of Orphée aux enfers, ed. by Keck, Berlin [2002], pp. 193.

[65] Cf. in the vocal score Paris [1874], no. 4 “Ballet Pastoral” (a brief introduction is followed by an “Entrée des Bergers” 2/4 allegretto, “Petite Marche” 4/4 moderato, shortly afterwards it changes into a 3/4 Modéré or rather Très modéré, “Les Faunes” 2/4 allegro, changing then into 4/4 andante as well as a closing “Final” with 6/8 allegro and 2/4 allegretto movements), pp. 47.

[66] Cf. “Viens, c’est l’honneur qui t’appelle” of the Opinion public in the piano excerpt Paris [1858], pp. 95.

[67] Cf. vocal score Paris [1874] “Entrée des Élèves d’Orphée” (6/8 Allegro) and “Valse des Petits Violonistes” (3/4 Allegro), pp. 86.

[68] Cf. vocal score Paris [1874] “Divertissement des Songes et des Heures” (Beginning with a C allegro moderato followed by a rise from the “Première Heure”, 4/4 moderato, via the “Deuxième Heure”, 2/4 allegretto, and “Troisième Heure”, 3/4 andantino, up to the “Quadrième Heure”, 4/4 allegretto giocoso, and “Cinquième Heure”, 3/4 allegro moderato followed by the “Transformation” as transition to the enterance of Aurore, 3/4 Très modéré presque Andantino, shortly afterwards the Très animé presque allegro, in order to switch once more into a Plus modéré in “ff grandioso”, closing with the “Groupe final” 3/4 très lentement), pp. 110.

[69] Ibid., no. 12 “Ronde-Saltarelle de Mercure: ‘Eh hop! Eh hop! Place à Mercure’ ”, pp. 129.

[70] Cf. in the new critical edition of the vocal score of the first version of Orphée aux enfers, Berlin [2002], no. 9 “Final du 1er acte”, pp. 85, resp. in the piano score Paris [1874] no. 16 “Grand Final scène, Ensemble Chœur et Marche”, pp. 161. In the second version the march-like “Partons, partons, partons” of the gods is increased by the military band on stage. Furthermore, there are changes in the finale compared with the first version. Cf. the piano excerpt Paris [1874], pp. 187.

[71] Cf. vocal score Paris [1874], no. 25 “Scène Ballet des Mouches” (starting with a 3/4 allegro-“Scène”, the “Ballet des Mouches” sets in with a 4/4-moderato introduction, before changing into a 3/4 andante movement, followed by an extended valse, ending in the almost obligatory galop, 2/4 allegro,).

[72] Cf. in the new critical edition of the vocal score of the first version of Orphée aux enfers, Berlin [2002], no. 15 “Menuet et Galop infernal (avec chœur)” (initially a 3/4 moderato almost andante and via a brief 2/4 allegro – animato passage changing into the closing galop in allegretto moderato), pp. 165, resp. the vocal score Paris [1874], no. 28 (but there starting with an “Entrée du Ballet”, 2/4 allegretto, befor Jupiter sets in), pp. 279.

[73] For more information on Henri Justament cf. Atwood and Jeschke 2006, Jeschke 2003, 2007, 2011, Jeschke et al. 2009 and 2010, Vettermann 2010.

[74]  The notations are more or less valid for both productions, differences in casting are commented. A detailed description of the mise en scène is illustrated by numerous pencil drawings painted in watercolours with figures and sketches of the costumes, props and accessories. They are kept in the stock of the theatre museum Schloss Wahn (Inv. no. 70 473–475, part of the omnibus vol. no. 12: Orphée aux Enfers). I am grateful to Dr. Hedwig Müller for providing me with the respective manuscripts.

[75] In two versions which probably refer to the production in London or Paris.

[76] Remarkable is the central turning moment which is already implied here (“Allez, jeunes filles, Dansez et tournez”) and will get even more fast-paced later on (cf. further down). Cf. the vocal score with lyrics Paris [1867], pp. 13.

[77] Cf. libretto Paris [1885], p. 21: “Sur une musique militaire, entre par le fond à droite la grande-duchesse, tenue de cheval, cravache à la main; elle porte le costume de son régiment. – Derrière elle viennent ses demoiselles d’honneur également en amazones et dans le costume du régiment, puis à la suite un brillant état-major de jeunes officiers en uniformes éclatants. – L’armée présente les armes.”resp. the vocal score Paris [1867], no. 3: “Chœur, Récit et Rondo de la G. de Duchesse” and especially no. 4: “Chanson militaire”, pp. 45 and pp. 55.

[78] The grandmother of the duchess already had a common soldier as her lover, who one day had to pay for his amorous adventure with his life; cf. the ballad in the libretto print Paris [1885], pp. 87, resp. in the vocal score Paris [1867] pp. 176.

[79] Cf. vocal score Paris [1867], pp. 217.

[80] Cf. libretto Paris [1885], p. 138.

[81] Cf. vocal score Paris [1867], act III, no. 19: “Entr’acte Galop”, pp. 265.

[82] This conflict marks many of the so-called romantic ballets, but is used there in a generally fateful-tragic form and mainly includes only individual protagonists. In Offenbach’s work this topos advances into a general social phenomenon that might be unfortunate in its consequences but does not have a fatal impact. Instead it is experienced as extremely pleasurable, despite the unmistakable irony and parody.

[83] Cf. vocal score Paris [1866], pp. 213, resp. the new critical edition of the vocal score, Berlin [2002], pp. 249.