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For more information on Jacques Offenbach, please visit http://www.offenbachsociety.org.uk/  

La Périchole performed by Kidlington Amateur Operatic Society. Sung in English (Almeida Translation), October 2012
Orpheus in the Underworld performed by Opera South East, November 2012
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Jacques Offenbach, published in 1980, was Harding's seventh biography set against the backdrop of French music.
Reviews of Jacques Offenbach
"...a special delight.  Dry-eyed, ironic, faintly cynical and steeped in joie de vivre...takes wing like an operetta...with the most wonderful pointed anecdotes." R Maycock, Classical Music Weekly

The book
When talking of French operetta the first name that springs to mind is that of Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880), the first of a succession of light opera composers who founded a tradition that was to be taken up by Lecocq and Messager in France, Johann Strauss in Austria, Franz Lehar in Hungary, and Gilbert and Sullivan in England.  Although born a German Jew, Offenbach became the epitomy of everything French and nobody caught the spirit of the age of Napoleon III better than the composer of Orpheus in the Underworld, La belle Hélène and La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein.  This sympathetic biography by Harding reveals a man as fascinating as his music and chronicles a glittering, luxurious, and extravagant age as well as the man who gave it so much of its music and spirit.  
The man
Born Jacob Offenbach in Cologne, Offenbach did not move to Paris until 1833, when his father decided to take him and his brother to study at the Paris Conservatoire.  As a melodist, Offenbach can be ranked with the greatest composers of his own and the preceding century, while as a composer of witty, wicked and often lascivious satirical comment on the society of his time, he had no equal.  Immensely popular at the height of his career, he earned fortunes which he spent equally fast, always brimming over with energy, while composing, rehearsing, conducting, entertaining, and immersing himself in all the gaiety of that age of pleasure.  But his health was indifferent and much of his life was lived in great pain, while his triumphs were balanced by many failures.  He never lived to see his final masterpiece The Tales of Hoffmann performed, but knew its worth.