OK, accusations can be hurled at Offenbach for being a bread-and-circuses composer who was probably far too prolific for his own creative good, but I've never heard comic opera that makes me smile as much as Offenbach's does when he was on good form, and there are at least four of his works for the stage that deserve to remain evergreen.
I fully agree. It is interesting how in other threads the influence of this or that composer is touted as proof of their importance... but what of the influence of Offenbach? His works were incredibly influential upon the entire genre of operetta... including Gilbert & Sullivan, Johann Strauss, Franz Lehár, etc... His work was also loved by "serious" composer including: Debussy, Bizet, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. His music combined elements of "high" and "low" (popular) culture which ultimately impacted the larger culture of the time... embraced by writers and especially visual artists. As a sworn Wagnerian I still appreciate his light-hearted deflation of the "seriousness" of Wagner and Berlioz. Similarly I appreciate the social criticism of his work... often aimed at Napoleon III and his government. Ultimately I find much of his music fun... sheer pleasure... sensual... and laden with memorable melodies. His music may be "mere" Parisian bon-bons... but sometimes bon-bons are just what I desire and there are none finer IMO.