Martin Meidenbauer

La dolorosa (Serrano - 1934 film by Jean Gremillon)

De la zarzuela al cine.
Los medios de comunicación populares
y su traducción de la voz marginal

Max Doppelbauer y Kathrin Sartingen (eds.)

München, Martin Meidenbauer, 2010
ISBN 978-3-89975-208-3 (260pp)

Learning about the outsider’s view of zarzuela is always most stimulating for the Spanish reader. Surely then we should welcome the recent publication of this collective work, edited by Professors Max Doppelbauer and Kathrin Sartingen from the University of Vienna, which has its origin in the 6th Section of the XVII Congreso de la Asociación Alemana de Hispanistas at the University of Tübingen, in March 2009.

Reading the articles – for this is not a book of academic abstracts – reflects, at least, ardent activity over days of intense reflection concerning one of the major features on the Hispanic scene: marginalized people. We have here fifteen texts of which five are focused on the field of zarzuela, the other ten on film (why not a more equal balance?) In both cases attention is paid to the Hispano-American world; of particular interest in the case of zarzuela, in view of the small amount of research concerning our cousin, the Cuban zarzuela. The Editors propose a dual object for this publication: to study the role of marginal social groups in zarzuela and film, and to examine if there exists a change of tone, voice or representation in both these popular media.

For obvious reasons of space I will focus on commenting on those texts dealing with zarzuela, but not before leaving on record my pleasant surprise reading the articles about film, which looked in great depth at topics diverse as the “housewife movies” of Almodóvar, delinquent movies from the eighties, and the gallery of grotesques in the films of Alex de la Iglesia. In the case of zarzuela – with obviously less “edgy” themes – the issues raised were more disparate in scope, though undoubtedly interrelated.

I must admit that the texts written by the non-Hispanic contributors are at a fantastic level, their lucidity based on a solidly interdisciplinary and post-modern approach. In this regard the contribution by Enrique Banús is extremely disappointing, very routine and not related at all to the ambitious title he offered [“La Gran Vía–civic protest?”]. At the other extreme lies Agnes Model’s, which offers a very thought-provoking socio-cultural essay concerning the fin-de-siècle lyric sainete. And 1900, precisely, is the starting date for the paper by our colleague Christopher Webber on a subject still so very little studied, the zarzuela in the first decade of the twentieth century. His starting point, focusing on the boldly political and revulsive functions of the negro, the Alcalde and the beatas in Las bribonas by Rafael Calleja, allows him to create an intelligent discourse – with a very surprising ending, when he turns to José Serrano’s popular zarzuela La Dolorosa ¹.

In line with perspectives of gender are the texts of Max Doppelbauer, on the presence of the gypsy in Spanish lyric theatre; and Susan Thomas, on Cuban zarzuela’s mulatas (young mulatto heroines) and negros trágicos. The former, despite setting out from a philological position, soon turns his spotlight onto sensational zarzuelas such as La chavala, La tempranica and especially La verbena de la Paloma  – memorably, indeed, in the final sentence of his essay ². Finally, the Susan Thomas’s text focuses on Ernesto Lecuona’s zarzuela María La O,  and the role played by the mulataand the new sense of the “tragic negro”, in what has become for me the most suggestive text on Cuban zarzuela written for a long time. [ed. c.f. our review of Thomas’s book Zarzuela Cubana]

© Enrique Mejías García 2011

¹“La bribona – the fallen woman – has been elevated to the level of the Mother of God.”

²“Perhaps we find in the work of Thomas Breton and Ricardo de la Vega an unconscious desire: the gypsy sings, but she is invisible.”

De la zarzuela al cine (2010)Article Titles

Los medios de comunicación populares y su traducción de la voz marginal (Kathrin Sartingen / Max Doppelbauer)

¿Una copia exacta de la vida? – Las estructuras sociales y su función en el sainete lírico de la Restauración (Agnes Model)

La Gran Vía– ¿protesta ciudadana? (Enrique Banús)

La gitana en el teatro lírico español y el caso de La verbena de la Paloma (Max Doppelbauer)

The alcalde, the negro and “la bribona”: “género ínfimo” zarzuela, 1900-1910 (Christopher Webber)

Staged Marginalities and Projected Difference: Cuban Zarzuela and Latin American Cinema (Susan Thomas)

El melo-drama de la marginalidad del cuerpo transexual: Melodía, cuerpos y ¯nuevas sinfonías fílmicas (Pietsie Feenstra)

¿Cuántos lados “entiende” a el amor? El deseo queer en el largometraje musical Los dos lados de la cama (Renaud Lagabrielle)

El cine quinqui o el lado oscuro de la Transición (Laureano Montero)

Representaciones cinematográficas de la Barcelona marginal: del poblado del Somorrostro en Los Tarantos a la renovación del Raval en De Nens y En construcción (Iván Villarmea Álvarez)

El espacio urbano desde la experiencia de sus habitantes: La voz marginal en los documentales Can Tunis y En construcción (Hanna Hatzmann)

Marujasa asesinas en el cine español: lo grotesco como crítica al sistema patriarcal (Esther Gimeno Ugalde)

La cara grotesca del margen - fealdad, deformación y otras marginaciones en el cine de Álex de la Iglesia (Karen Genschow)

The construction and deconstruction of the regime of truth in José Padilha´s Tropa de Elite (Hanna Klien)

¿Tipos raros al fin del mundo? Figuraciones de la marginalidad en dos películas de la Patagonia: El viento se llevó lo que e Historias mínimas  (Jenny Haase)

Voces en la otra orilla: Melillenses y Atlas bereber (Juan Ignacio Mendiguchía)

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15 March 2011