Jacques Offenbach I
(Harmonie et mélodie, Calmann-Lévy, 1899, 217–224)
It is from the transplanting of Jacques Offenbach to the Variétés that one can date the giddy heights of operetta and the collapse of taste. There was no longer any mention of the Comédie-Francaise, the Opéra or the Opéra-Comique: there was no theatre in Paris except the Variétés, no actress except Mlle Schneider, no composer except Offenbach. Offenbach's facility and speed of execution were unheard of. Literally, he used to improvise. His scores are written in a scrawl of microscopic notes. He had a system of abbreviations which he pushed to extreme limits, and the simplicity of his compositional techniques allowed him to make frequent use of it. Even so, he had great fertility, a gift for a tune, a sometimes distinguished harmonic style, a good deal of wit and invention, tremendous theatrical knowhow: more talents, indeed, than were required for success.
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