|The snow ballet from Offenbach's Le Voyage dans la Lune.|
As movie buffs know, filmmaking pioneer Georges Méliès wrote and directed a short film in 1902 called Le Voyage dans la Lune, based loosely on Jules Verne's novel De la Terre à la Lune. With its innovative use of animation and special effects, Méliès' film (viewable here) was a sensation.
|Georges Melies' moon.|
Theatrical adaptations of Verne's novel were nothing new. In 1875 Jacques Offenbach, "the Mozart of the boulevardiers," composed Le Voyage dans la Lune, an opéra-féerie in four acts. Opéra-féerie was a sub-genre of operetta, featuring fantastical plots, lavish staging, and stunning visual effects. For the theatre-going public, Le Voyage was the science fiction of its time.
|Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)|
Offenbach often took impish delight in assigning his singers with odd-sounding words or phrases. In the Final de la neige from Le Voyage de la Lune, playable below, he makes an unsingable syllable the centerpiece of a sparkling ensemble number.