ON AIR: The New Classical FM

June 20 composer birthday: Can-Can man, Jacques Offenbach!

Station Blog2018-6-19By: Classical Staff

The Can-Can, which was *very* risque, back in the day …

“Orpheus in the Underworld” is a comic operetta (“operetta” is like “opera lite” – in both subject matter and the music itself) that premiered in 1858 and is considered the first full-length operetta, since France didn’t allow full-length works of certain genres, for some bizarre reason. “Orpheus” is a scathing parody of Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice” and was considered shocking at the time. The operetta played in New York on Broadway, and in a few countries in Europe. Its popularity spread, and “Orpheus” continues to be presented by opera houses to this day, including a controversial run in late 1993 by The Toronto Operetta Theatre depicting heaven as Club Med, and hell as a leather bar. Ooh la la!

What many refer to as the “can-can” music is the “Infernal Galop” from Act 2, Scene 2. The most recent commercial use of this music is a television campaign for a Canadian coffee chain replete with lyrics explaining how the beans were selected, shipped to Canada, and subject to strict taste tests. There’s choreography in the commercial too, but no Can-Can.

Kick up your heels for the Can-Can dance in the style of the old Moulin Rouge!

Jacques Offenbach was born June 20, 1819 in Cologne, Germany, and died October 5, 1880, in Paris, France.


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