Fundación Caja Madrid
Fundación Caja Madrid
One of the triumphs of Teatro de la Zarzuela over the past few years has been the success of its outreach initiative with Madrid’s schools, which has inspired and educated children in equal measure about Spain’s treasure trove of lyric theatre. The idea that you can’t get them young enough is sound, and has resulted in enthusiastic attendance at packed schools performances, as well as the superb series of children’s programmes, illustrated by the boys and girls themselves.
The climax of this work has been the delightful matinee staging of Música Clásica [review], and this beautifully produced picture book is first and foremost a souvenir of the show. Beyond that, it provides a brief introduction not just to the little work itself and its creators, but also to the larger world of classical music, its instruments and institutions, not to mention zarzuela and its Madrid home theatre. Best of all, tucked into the endpaper is a studio recording of the complete zarzuela, based on the stage production but performed “pure”, with dialogue, in Juan José Colomer’s sensitive chamber arrangement of Chapí’s orchestral score.
The gatefold book mixes Mariona Omedes bold illustrations in the style of the popular cartoonist Mingote (many pages in gatefold or “advent calendar” format), with collages of the original libretto, fragments of script and explanatory text boxes. It captures nicely the colourful sweep of the production and the effervescence of Chapí and Estremera’s musical squib. Like the piece itself, the book shows “Classical Music” as something rich and joyous, without scrupling to make gentle fun of the excessive solemnity of some of its practitioners.
Little needs to be added about the admirable CD performance, with the trio of singers familiar from the stage show partnered by actors in the dialogue. They are all in good voice – not least Cristina Faus, whose smoky mezzo is well mirrored by Ana Hernández Sanchiz (who also wrote the admirable explanatory texts) in Paca’s dialogue. Cristóbal Soler’s direction is neat, the chamber playing affectionate and well pointed. In scale this Música clásica is a vaudeville-style complement to Ataulfo Argenta’s full orchestral LP reading, though as that has never appeared on official CD the current disc-book has the field to itself. The whole thing is a joy. Snap it up where you can!
© Christopher Webber 2009