On the southern slope of the Sierra de Guadarrama de Madrid lies the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. There you find me with my interviewee Enrique Baquerizo, facing the Monastery built by Philip II in the sixteenth century. On a cold November day, the Hotel Miranda is an inviting place for Enrique to share with me his views on zarzuela.
Life is full of surprises. Today we discovered that we met long ago, for Enrique and I coincided for several years while studying in the Madrid’s College of Telecommunications Engineering. He later chose to study at the College of Singing in Madrid before being awarded a scholarship, following an audition, to complete his Masters at the University of Michigan. There he met another fine baritone – Carlos Chausson – who embarked on a parallel career. Ten years in the United States yielded many things beyond improving their musical and vocal skills, as they supported themselves by performing in restaurants and singing with the university tuna.
His debut came with Pagliacci (Silvio) in Detroit, after which operatic success followed in Il barbiere di Siviglia (Figaro), Don Giovanni (Don Giovanni), Lucia di Lammermoor (Enrico), Le nozze di Figaro (Figaro), Gluck’s Armide (Hidraot), Tosca (Scarpia), Madama Butterfly (Sharpless)…. His Spanish repertoire encompasses Goyescas, Divinas palabras, Babel 46, Katiuska, La tabernera del puerto, El gato montés, Don Gil de Alcalá, La generala, La verbena de la Paloma, La canción del olvido, La gran vía, La revoltosa and many other zarzuelas; and he has performed in the USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Netherlands and elsewhere.
Enrique has recently been appearing in the Teatro de la Zarzuela’s new La Verbena de La Paloma in the role of Don Hilarion...
Enrique, what are the differences between Don Hilarión
under José Carlos Plaza and the character we usually
Do you think the audience accepts
the different visions of a work or a character, has the stage
(Enrique has played the protagonist in Don Quijote by Cristobal Halffter, Falla’s El retablo de maese Pedro, Chapí’s La venta de Don Quijote, and Don Quijote en Barcelona by José Luis Turina – as well as performing the Don Quixote song cycles by Maurice Ravel and Jacques Ibert.)
Having sung and performed the character of Don Quixote many times, am I allowed you to give you the nickname “The Quixote of Music”?
Admittedly I have participated in several works in which Don Quixote was the main character. Of course I do not mind, it’s an honour.
How do you see the zarzuela? Do you
have a diagnosis for her?
I also believe that zarzuela is a victim of this common habit we have of undervaluing what is under our noses. And I do not forget the lack of official support in some communities...
How do you imagine the zarzuela in a
After singing Goyescas in
London, El Retablo de Maese Pedro in
New York, La generala at Le Chatêlet in Paris, El gato
montés in Tokyo, La vida breve in Montreal, among many
others… is Spanish lyric theatre established outside the
Just as an example to prove that Spanish music is loved worldwide, I remember while living in New York that I received a call from the director of the Saint Louis opera company in Missouri, saying that he had fallen in love with La verbena de la Paloma and wanted to programme it for the next season with me singing Julián – in English. The audience loved the music but did not understand the plot too well. That teaches us that with such specific, traditional works, the best we can do is leave them as they are. I would not want to see Porgy and Bess translated into Spanish.
What can we import from other
countries like USA, UK...?
Pedro Gomez Manzanares 18/XI/2013