A composer mainly of operetta (opéra bouffe), his best known works being La belle Hélène (about Helen of Troy), Orpheus in the Underworld, and Tales of Hoffmann.

Real name Jakob Levy Eberst, born on 20 June 1819 in Cologne, where his father was cantor at the synagogue. As a teenager he studied at the Paris Conservatoire and played the cello with the Opéra-Comique. He ran his own theatres between 1855 and 1861 and between 1873 and 1875, and undertook a tour of America in 1876. He died at Paris on 5 October 1880.

The Tales of Hoffmann (Contes d'Hoffmann) is a serious opera, incomplete at his death; apart from this he wrote a ballet and 89 operettas, including ones based on Robinson Crusoe, Voyage to the Moon, and Dick Whittington.

According to Flaubert's satirical Dictionary of Received Ideas,"On hearing his name, put two fingers of the right hand together, to guard against the evil eye. This looks very fashionable and Parisian."

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