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In the Footsteps of Offenbach

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Editorial Reviews

Light operetta, farce and entertainment are all synonymous with Jacques Offenbach. French Can-Can is practically his theme song. And yet Offenbach himself never saw the Can-Can danced! What story lies behind this unique composer? Musicologist and conductor Jean-Christophe Keck follows Offenbach's ambitious journey across Europe's theatres and into the hearts of 19th-century audiences. Keck shows how Offenbach established himself as a comedy genius, and also how the frothy frills hide a great opera composer.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jean-Christophe Keck
  • Directors: Kultur
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kultur
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2012
  • Run Time: 52 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B008KJZKA8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,261 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By F. Behrens HALL OF FAME on January 20, 2014
Verified Purchase
I notice that Kultur has a series of DVDs titled “In the Footsteps of…” with each set dedicated to some composer. Loving Offenbach as I do, I just viewed “In the Footsteps of Offenbach” and enjoyed it very much indeed.

In 50 minutes, the disc follows the career of the German composer who changed his last name to that of his hometown and his first name from Jacob to Jacques and went on to conquer first Paris, then most of Europe, with his witty satires. Wanting most to have a major work at an important house, he first had to be content with composing parlor music (a good deal of which has been long available on CD), and then short comic works that mocked the follies of the times. And of all times!

Because some French law prohibited a musical from having more than three characters, Offenbach found many ways to get around this nonsense. When the ban was finally lifted, he came up with “Orphee aux enfers” (Orpheus in the Underworld), which set Paris on fire for three reasons. First, it was so roundly condemned by scholars as a disgrace that the public simply had to see for itself. Secondly, the Olympians were made up to look like prominent politicians of the day. Finally, the music—especially the concluding Can-can—was infectious.

Not much is said about the many versions “Les Contes d’Hoffmann,” left incomplete at Offenbach’s death and cobbled together by subsequent conductors. But in 50 minutes, how much could be included? This is a knotty problem for any production of the opera today, especially after “new” material was found late in the last century.

This film was meant for French television and Kultur copies have English dubbed over the speakers’ voices.
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