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"Jacques Offenbach: A French Genius Haunts Modern German Culture" - a talk by Laurence Senelick
The comic operas of Jacques Offenbach were the most popular theatre works of the mid-nineteenth century across the globe; but he and they had a fraught relationship with German culture. A Jew born in Cologne, he became the emblem of Second Empire frivolity, especially after the Franco-Prussian war. Hated by Wagner, praised by Nietzsche, emulated by Nestroy, exalted by Karl Kraus, his was the Gallic spirit that had to be exorcised or embraced. In the twentieth century, the Frankfurt School renewed interest in him and the high-spirited revivals by Max Reinhardt inspired such artists as Paul Klee. Banned under the Nazis, Offenbach survived in concentration camps and refugee settlements to be eventually enshrined at East Berlin's Komische Oper.
Laurence Senelick is Fletcher Professor of Drama and Oratory at Tufts University; Fellow of the American Academy of Art and Sciences; and Alt-Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. His books include The Chekhov Theatre; Gender in Performance; The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre; Stanislavsky: A Life in Letters; and Soviet Theatre: A Documentary History. His translations of Chekhov, Gogol, Schiller, Euripides, Strindberg, Giraudoux and others have been widely performed. His work has been recognized with the St George medal of the Russian Ministry of Culture and funding from the NEH, the ACLS, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and other academic bodies. He is also a professional actor and director, who has worked with, among others, the Phoenix Theatre, New York, and the Boston Lyric Opera. Cambridge University Press is about to publish his Jacques Offenbach and the Making of Modern Culture.