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Offenbach: Robinson Crusoe Excerpts

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: only alone on paper…

True devotees of Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” might be puzzled at a performance of Offenbach’s 1867 operetta. The plot is only loosely based on Defoe, and actually bears more similar to an earlier adaptation—a popular British stage pantomime which had been in circulation for years. In Defoe’s 1719 work, considered by some to be the very first English novel, it is the solitude of the shipwrecked Crusoe that is emphasized, at least before he finds his Man Friday. In Offenbach’s version, Crusoe has almost too much company! Before the curtain falls, Robinson’s fiancée, her two servants, and their former neighbor have all arrived on the island. In a particularly Offenbachian touch, Crusoe’s former neighbor joins a band of Cannibals, becoming their chef!

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