Offenbach / Rosenthal: From Gaîté Parisienne
With a talent for writing lustful stage music with satirical bite, Jacques Offenbach succeeded in elevating operetta to an international art form. He composed over 90 operettas, such as La belle Hélène, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein and Orpheus in the Underworld (which gave the world the can-can), earning with fame and success the nickname “Mozart of the Champs-Élysées”. In 1938, conductor Manuel Rosenthal was commissioned by the Russian Ballet in Monte Carlo to write a ballet score based on Offenbach’s operettas, a collaboration he made with the composer’s nephew, Jacques Brindejonc-Offenbach.
The work was initially rejected by the theater management, but finally received its premiere thanks to the intervention of Stravinsky, who saw the ballet’s potential. The music was taken from, among others, La Vie parisienne, La belle Hélène, La Périchole and the only opera, The Tales of Hoffmann, and the result was Gaîté Parisienne. The one-act ballet has no actual plot, but instead depicts amorous flirtations, the happy dancing and exuberant party mood of a group of guests in a fashionable Parisian cafe. The charming piece is like an exclusive pearl necklace, filled with sparkling musical pearls. Barbara Hannigan leads the orchestra for the evening.