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Virtual Exhibit No 5: Roulette from the Bad Ems Kursaal (Germany)

Roulette table from the Bad Ems Kursaal

Roulette table from the Bad Ems Kursaal
Image Credit: Hans-Jürgen Sarholz, Museum Bad Ems

Dr Hans-Jürgen Sarholz, the retired director of the Bad Ems town archive and museum is presenting the early 19th century roulette from the Bad Ems Kursaal.

Jacques Offenbach visited Bad Ems frequently, as a spa visitor, as a composer looking for a restive yet creative environment, and also to work as a stage director for the summer seasons in the Kursaal. Before the opening of his one act play “Lischen & Fritzchen” in 1863, relates Sarholz, Offenbach went to the Marble Hall, where both concerts were staged and the casino operated, among others, this roulette table. As it happened, Offenbach gambled and lost. As the croupier attempted to collect the money, his rake broke. The young bandmaster Lindheim grabbed the shaft of the broken rake and turned to Offenbach, saying “Maestro, if you allow, I will use this trophy to conduct your new play!” And so it happened. What is more, Lindheim was invited to become the musical director of the “Théâtre des Variétés” the same year. On 17 December 1864, Lindheim conducted the first night of Offenbach’s “La belle Hélène”, partly written in Ems, in the Hotel “Stadt Wiesbaden”. He is said to have used his talisman, the broken rake from Ems as the conductor’s baton again. “La belle Hélène” became Offenbach’s second international success, after “Orphée Aux Enfers” from 1858, larger parts of which he had composed in Bad Ems, too.

Curator: Hans-Jürgen Sarholz