Jacques Offenbach's real name was Jakob Wiener. He was born at Cologne, Germany in 1819, and died in Paris in 1880, aged sixty-one. He was the son of a Jewish cantor. Offenbach moved to Paris in 1833 to study the cello. He earned his living playing cello in the orchestra of the Opera Comique. In 1850 he became conductor of the Theatre Francais. Gradually, he became known to the public as a composer of light and humorous operettas.
He founded a theatrical company in 1855, the Bouffes-Parisiens, which staged many of his operettas, and he managed the company for many years. He became a French citizen in 1860. In 1876, he toured the United States. He also toured Britain, and his many works had great popularity everywhere.
Offenbach completed more than ninety works for the stage. His first success was Orpheus in the Underworld (1858). His most popular compositions appeared in the 1860's, notably La Belle Helene (1864), La Vie Parisienne (1866), La Grande-duchesse de Gerolstein (1867) and La Perichole (1868). Offenbach's last work was The Tales of Hoffmann. The production of this work was in preparation when he died - three months too early to witness its reception, an experience to which he had greatly looked forward.