Saturday 5 April 2008

Orpheus In The Underworld

Not many concert band pieces have challenged the law, but this is the rebel history of Offenbach's "Orphee aux Enfers", premiered in 1858 as the world's first full-length Operetta in defiance of French laws prohibiting works of this length. Defiant too in the shockingly burlesque Galope Infernal which you and I have come to know as the raunchy raucus Can-Can. It even has the relentless throbbing in-your-face two-chord backgrounds later put to similar use by Neil Young and Johnny Rotten :)

Pure Punk for Then People.

This is opéra bouffe, a great comic romp. Our generation probably knows the whole overture more from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, and that's really not very far from the composer's intent, although perhaps tamed down a little, divesting the work from those numerous bits of contextual digitus impudicus-ness to the operetta. To start with, this is a comic send up of the whole 'noble simplicity' of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice and the performance is punctuated with jabs at famous performers and politicians alike.

Amazon: Orpheus in the Underworld