Hortense Schneider

Hortense Catherine Schneider, La Snédèr, (30 April 1833 in Bordeaux, France – 5 May 1920, in Paris, France[1]) was a French soprano, one of the greatest operetta stars of the 19th century, particularly associated with the works of composer Jacques Offenbach.

Hortense Schneider colour
Hortense Schneider


Born in Bordeaux, where she studied with Schaffner, she made her debut in Agen in 1853, as Inès in La favorite.

She came to Paris and was turned down by the director of the Théâtre des Variétés but was noticed by Jacques Offenbach who invited her to the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, where she made her debut in 1855 in Le violoneux. She enjoyed immediate success and created for Offenbach the role of Boulotte in Barbe-bleue and the title roles in La belle Hélène, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein and La Périchole, all resounding triumphs. She also appeared in London and Saint Petersburg, to great acclaim.

An accomplished singer and actress, she was much admired for her brio and verve on stage, was the toast of the Second Empire and a favourite of royal visitors to Paris. La Snédèr was reputedly one of King Edward VII's mistresses (because of the favours which she liberally granted to the members of the nobility, she was known as Le Passage des Princes.).[2] She retired in 1878, after her marriage, and died in Paris over forty years later at age 87. She is buried in the Protestant Cemetery of Bordeaux, France.

Schneider was the subject of the 1950 film La Valse de Paris by Marcel Achard.[3]


  1. ^ Elizabeth Forbes in Grove Music Online (2009) gives 1922, but the same author gives 1920 in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera.
  2. ^ Friedman, Dennis (2003). Ladies of the Bedchamber. London: Peter Owens Publishers. p. 100. ISBN 0-7206-1244-6.
  3. ^ La valse de Paris on IMDb


  • Le guide de l'opéra, Roland Mancini & Jean-Jacques Rouveroux, (Fayard, 1986) ISBN 2-213-01563-5
  • La diva d'Offenbach. Hortense Schneider (1833–1920), Jean-Paul Bonami, (Romillat, 2004) ISBN 2-87894-080-6
  • Peter Hawig: Hortense Schneider. Bedingungen und Stationen einer Erfolgsbiographie. Bad Emser Hefte, Nr. 258. VGDL, Bad Ems 2006, 47 S.
  • Friedman, Dennis (2003). Ladies of the Bedchamber. London: Peter Owen Publishers.

External links

Media related to Hortense Schneider at Wikimedia Commons

1833 in music

This article is about music-related events in 1833.

Anna Judic

Anne Marie-Louise Damiens, stage name Anna Judic (18 July 1849, Semur-en-Auxois – 15 April 1911, Golfe-Juan) was a French comic actress. Her ménage à trois proved the inspiration for that in the 1880 Émile Zola novel Nana.

Barbe-bleue (opera)

Barbe-bleue (French pronunciation: ​[baʁb blø], Bluebeard) is an opéra bouffe, or operetta, in three acts (four scenes) by Jacques Offenbach to a French libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy based on Charles Perrault's 1697 story.


Hortense is a French feminine given name that comes from Latin meaning gardener. It may refer to:


Hortense Allart (1801-1879), Italian-French feminist writer and essayist

Hortense de Beauharnais (1783-1837), stepdaughter of Napoleon and Queen consort of HollandHortense Sapphire’s sister in TV show “Amos ‘N Andy 1928-1953. Sapphire was the wife of George "Kingfish" Stevens. Hortense was her sister who stayed with them in trying times.

Hortense Béwouda (born 1978), sprinter from Cameroon

Hortense Clews (1926-2006), member of the Belgian Resistance in World War II

Hortense Dufour (born 1946), French writer

Hortense Ellis (1941-2000), Jamaican reggae singer

Hortense Calisher (1911-2009), American fiction writer, author of In the Absence of Angels

Hortense Globensky-Prévost (1804-1873), Canadian heroine

Hortense Gordon (1886-1961), Canadian abstract painter

Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot (1784-1845), French painter of genre scenes

Hortense or Nicole-Reine Lepaute (1723-1788), French astronomer and mathematician

Hortense Mancini (1646-1699), Duchess of Mazarin and a mistress of Charles II, King of England

Hortense Powdermaker (1900-1970), American anthropologist

Hortense Parker (1859–1938), music teacher and daughter of African-American inventor, industrialist and abolitionist John Parker

Hortense Rhéa (1844-1899), French actress

Hortense Schneider (1833-1920), French soprano

Hortense Sparks Ward (1872-1944), pioneering Texas lawyer and women's rights activistFictional characters

Mademoiselle Hortense, in the novel Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Hortense Cumberbatch, in the film Secrets & Lies by British director, Mike Leigh

Hortense Briggs, in the novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

Hortense Daigle, portrayed by Eileen Heckart in The Bad Seed play and film

Hortense McDuck, a Disney character who is Scrooge McDuck's sister and Donald Duck's mother

Hortense, another Disney character who was the horse of young Scrooge McDuck and was named after Scrooge's sister

Hortense Derry, portrayed by Gladys George in The Best Years of Our Lives film

Hortense Toomey Campanati, in the novel Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess

Hortense, adopted sister of Michael Roberts in the novel "Small Island" by Andrea Levy

Hortense, later known as Mist, from the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky

Hortense, Donald Duck's pet in comic books and a cartoon - see Donald's Ostrich

Jacques Offenbach

Jacques Offenbach (French pronunciation: ​[ʒak ɔfɛnbak]; German: [ˈɔfn̩bax]; 20 June 1819 – 5 October 1880) was a German-French composer, cellist and impresario of the romantic period. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann. He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss, Jr. and Arthur Sullivan. His best-known works were continually revived during the 20th century, and many of his operettas continue to be staged in the 21st. The Tales of Hoffmann remains part of the standard opera repertory.

Born in Cologne, the son of a synagogue cantor, Offenbach showed early musical talent. At the age of 14, he was accepted as a student at the Paris Conservatoire but found academic study unfulfilling and left after a year. From 1835 to 1855 he earned his living as a cellist, achieving international fame, and as a conductor. His ambition, however, was to compose comic pieces for the musical theatre. Finding the management of Paris' Opéra-Comique company uninterested in staging his works, in 1855 he leased a small theatre in the Champs-Élysées. There he presented a series of his own small-scale pieces, many of which became popular.

In 1858, Offenbach produced his first full-length operetta, Orphée aux enfers ("Orpheus in the Underworld"), which was exceptionally well received and has remained one of his most played works. During the 1860s, he produced at least 18 full-length operettas, as well as more one-act pieces. His works from this period included La belle Hélène (1864), La Vie parisienne (1866), La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (1867) and La Périchole (1868). The risqué humour (often about sexual intrigue) and mostly gentle satiric barbs in these pieces, together with Offenbach's facility for melody, made them internationally known, and translated versions were successful in Vienna, London and elsewhere in Europe.

Offenbach became associated with the Second French Empire of Napoleon III; the emperor and his court were genially satirised in many of Offenbach's operettas. Napoleon III personally granted him French citizenship and the Légion d'Honneur. With the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Offenbach found himself out of favour in Paris because of his imperial connections and his German birth. He remained successful in Vienna and London, however. He re-established himself in Paris during the 1870s, with revivals of some of his earlier favourites and a series of new works, and undertook a popular U.S. tour. In his last years he strove to finish The Tales of Hoffmann, but died before the premiere of the opera, which has entered the standard repertory in versions completed or edited by other musicians.

Jean-François Berthelier

Jean-François-Philibert Berthelier (14 December 1830 – 29 September 1888) was a French actor and singer, who performed many light tenor roles in opéra-comique and opéra-bouffe.

José Dupuis

Joseph-Lambert Dupuis (known as José Dupuis) (18 March 1833, Liège – 9 May 1900, Nogent-sur-Marne) was a Belgian singer and actor. He was principally active in opéra-bouffe in Paris, in particular at the Théâtre des Variétés.

La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein

La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein) is an opéra bouffe (a form of operetta), in three acts and four tableaux by Jacques Offenbach to an original French libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. The story is a satirical critique of unthinking militarism and concerns a spoiled and tyrannical young Grand Duchess who learns that she cannot always get her way.

The opera premiered in Paris in 1867 and starred Hortense Schneider in the title role. Thereafter, it was heard in New York, London and elsewhere, and it is still performed and recorded.

La Périchole

La Périchole (French pronunciation: ​[la peʁikɔl]) is an opéra bouffe in three acts by Jacques Offenbach. Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy wrote the French-language libretto based on the 1829 one act play Le carrosse du Saint-Sacrement by Prosper Mérimée, which was revived on 13 March 1850 at the Théâtre-Français. Offenbach was probably aware of this production, as he conducted the orchestra of the Comédie-Française from around this time. Another theatrical creation that pre-dates Offenbach's opéra bouffe and may have influenced the piece is a farce by Desforges and Théaulon given on 21 October 1835 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal.La Périchole's title character is based on Micaela Villegas, a beloved 18th century Peruvian entertainer and the famous mistress of Manuel de Amat y Juniet, Viceroy of Peru from 1761 to 1776. The story concerns two impoverished Peruvian street-singers, too poor to afford a marriage license, and a lecherous viceroy, Don Andrès de Ribeira, who wishes to make La Périchole his mistress.

The score is in what Andrew Lamb calls Offenbach's "most charming", rather than satirical style, with boleros, seguidillas and galops to provide the exotic backdrop. Highlights include La Périchole's letter song, O mon cher amant; her "tipsy" aria, Ah! quel dîner!; and (for the 1874 revision) her third-act aria to Piquillo, Tu n'es pas beau, tu n'es pas riche, Offenbach's last major song for Hortense Schneider.

La belle Hélène

La belle Hélène (French pronunciation: ​[la bɛl elɛn], The Beautiful Helen), is an opéra bouffe in three acts by Jacques Offenbach to an original French libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. The operetta parodies the story of Helen's elopement with Paris, which set off the Trojan War.

La rose de Saint-Flour

La rose de Saint-Flour is a one-act opérette with music by Jacques Offenbach to a French libretto by Michel Carré, first performed in 1856.

Le violoneux

Le violoneux is a one-act operetta (« légende bretonne » - Breton legend) by Jacques Offenbach to a French libretto by Eugène Mestépès and Émile Chevalet, first performed in 1855.

Méry Laurent

Méry Laurent, born Anne Rose Suzanne Louviot (born 29 April 1849, Nancy- d. 26 November 1900), was a demi-mondaine (courtesan) and the muse of several Parisian artists. She used to run her own “salon” where she hosted many French (and even American) writers and painters of her time: Stéphane Mallarmé, Émile Zola, Marcel Proust, François Coppée, Henri Gervex, James Whistler and Édouard Manet.

Nana (novel)

Nana is a novel by the French naturalist author Émile Zola. Completed in 1880, Nana is the ninth installment in the 20-volume Les Rougon-Macquart series.


Operetta is a genre of light opera, light in terms both of music and subject matter.

Schneider (surname)

Schneider (German for "tailor", literally "someone who cuts," from the verb schneiden "to cut") is a very common surname in Germany. Alternative spellings include: Schnieder, Snyder, Snider, Sneider, Schnyder, Znaider, Schnaider, Schneiter, Shneider, Sneijder (Dutch), Snither (English), Snyman (Afrikaans), Schnider (Swiss German), Sznajder (Polish), Szneider, Snaider.

The Paris Waltz

The Paris Waltz (French: La Valse de Paris) is a 1950 French-Italian historical musical film directed by Marcel Achard and starring Yvonne Printemps, Pierre Fresnay and Jacques Charon. It portrays the life of the nineteenth century composer Jacques Offenbach.

The film's sets were designed by Robert Clavel.

Tromb-al-ca-zar, ou Les criminels dramatiques

Tromb-al-ca-zar, ou Les criminels dramatiques is a bouffonnerie musicale in one act of 1856 with music by Jacques Offenbach. The French libretto was by Charles-Désiré Dupeuty and Ernest Bourget. With its dialogue containing plays on words and stage business from contemporary Parisian dramas and operas, it is described by Kracauer as satirizing the romantic bandits of grand opera.Tromb-al-ca-zar was premiered in the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, Salle Choiseul in Paris, preceded by two cantatas by Offenbach, Le Berceau and La Paix du monde. Successful numbers such as the bolero for Hortense Schneider and the song about Bayonne ham, made the work popular along with the in-jokes, despite the thin plot; it was revived at the Bouffes-Parisiens for several years afterwards.

As well as "extravagant parodies both of specific more serious musical works", the work pokes fun at the brigand element in romantic opera generally.After opening at the Bouffes-Parisiens, Schneider made such an impression on Prince Jérôme Bonaparte, cousin of the emperor, that the company was summoned to give a command performance of the piece at his home. Tromb-al-ca-zar was performed in Brussels in September 1858 and in Vienna in March 1862, and mounted in London in English in 1870.

Yvonne Printemps

Yvonne Printemps (French: [pʁɛ̃tɑ̃]; 25 July 1894 – 19 January 1977) was a French singer and actress who achieved stardom on stage and screen in France and internationally.

Printemps went on the stage in Paris at the age of 12, and at 21 she was singled out by the actor, director and playwright Sacha Guitry as a leading lady. In 1919 they were married, and worked closely together until 1932, when they divorced. Printemps never remarried, but had a personal and professional partnership with the actor Pierre Fresnay which lasted until his death in 1975.

As a performer, Printemps was famed for the quality of her singing voice and for her personal charm. Among those who composed for her were André Messager, Reynaldo Hahn, Noël Coward and Francis Poulenc. Her voice could have led her to an operatic career, but guided by Guitry she concentrated on operette and other types of musical show, along with non-musical plays and films. In addition to her many successes in Paris she appeared to great acclaim in the West End of London, and on Broadway in New York.

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