THE FRANCO-Prussian War (1870) did not immediately change the taste of Parisians for certain kinds of operetta, but it was a decisive blow against opéra-bouffe. Before the war, Second Empire frivolity sanctioned entertainments that were lighthearted, silly, boisterous, licentious (certainly by British standards), and satirical, with the accent clearly on gaiety. The pettiness of the court and government of Napoléon III and the specter of Bismarck had already been alluded to in two offenbachiades: La Périchole and La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, and by the late 1860s there were critics already condemning the satire in the libretti, possibly because these situations were simply becoming too serious to satirize.
The war and the Commune confirmed how serious they were, and quite abruptly ended not only the reign of Napoléon (who fled to England) but also the frivolity connected with his reign, at least for several months. By the autumn of 1871, theatrical activity began to flourish again. At first, Parisians wanted the same fare they had had during the Empire: folly, gaiety, the lightest operettas. Les Brigands, even though it had forecast the sound of military boots approaching, was enthusiastically reprised at the Variétés; the Bouffes-Parisiens remounted Les Bavards and La Princesse de Trébizonde, also by Offenbach. Le Roi Carotte was a spectacular hit for Offenbach at the Gaîté in January 1872. Hervé's Le Trône d'Écosse next appeared at the Variétés. But all of the 1871-72 operettas were swept aside by the triumph of Charles Lecocq's La Fille de Madame Angot at the end of 1872, in Brussels. When it arrived in Paris in 1873, Lecocq effectively replaced Offenbach as the emperor of operetta.
The operettas of the Third Republic became more differentiated than the everpopular opéras-bouffes of the previous decades. With composers like Planquette, romance, preferably of the sentimental, costumed kind, became entirely more popular than the satire that had previously reigned in Offenbach's heyday. Comedy was not—needless to say—banished, so that by the 1880s the vaude-