Tune of the Day: Minuet
First performed in 1858, Orphée aux enfers is said to be the first classical full-length operetta. Offenbach's earlier operettas were small-scale one-act works, since the law in France did not allow certain genres of full-length works. Orpheus was not only longer, but more musically adventurous than Offenbach's earlier pieces.
This minuet is taken from Act II. An extravagant party is in full swing in Hell, and the gods are singing the praises of wine. Eurydice sneaks in disguised as a bacchante (a follower of Bacchus, the god of wine), but Jupiter's plan to sneak out with her is interrupted by calls for a dance. Unfortunately, Jupiter can only dance minuets which everyone else finds boring. Things liven up, though, as the most famous number in the operetta, the Galop Infernal (best known as the music of the Can-can) starts, and everyone throws himself into it with wild abandon.