If SGAE had a face, it would be that of Mariluz, Director of the Institution’s Archive. This tireless woman can always be relied upon to find the time for a rapid response to scholars’ questions about zarzuela. Christopher Webber and I met her working hard in her office at the Palacio de Longoria. After an animated chat lasting over an hour, which I have tried to condense into a few lines, Mariluz – radiantly happy with the wonderful work that is moving forward, showed us the famous archive for which she is responsible. That we held in our hands the original manuscripts of La Gran Vía, La marsellesa and El rey que rabió was part responsible for the emotion we experienced throughout that beautiful autumn morning: being able to share it with someone who loves the genre so much as Mariluz made it even more beautiful.
Mariluz, let’s begin with you. How did you enter into the archival world and SGAE. What was your prior professional background?
I am a graduate in Art History and Musicology from the University of Oviedo. I started working at SGAE in 1989 at the instigation of Emilio Casares, collaborating on the Diccionario de la Música Española e Hispanoamericana, a project in which I was involved for over ten years. In 1990 I took charge of organizing the Institution’s library, which up till then had only been open to the Society’s partners; with the creation in 1993 of CEDOA (SGAE’s Centre for Documentation and Archives) I was made head of it. This archival centre is quite unusual because it combines commercial exploitation of the zarzuela repertoire which SGAE manages, with the classic work of a library centre at the service of researchers.
It must surely be a privilege to work in a base so singular from the architectural point of view as is the Palacio de Longoria, right?
Indeed, it is a marvel. The building, designed by the architect José Grases Riera, has housed SGAE since 1950 when it was acquired by the then President of the Society, Jacinto Guerrero.
About SGAE – is it a public
institution or a private organization? How is it funded?
What is SGAE’s relationship with ICCMU?
As far as we are concerned ICCMU’s role is to be responsible for editing and publishing SGAE’s archives.
I suppose that anyone who works for SGAE must be fed up with the following question, but despite that I have to ask it: why does the collection of royalties by SGAE get such a bad press from the public?
Nobody likes to pay, whether to the Tax Collector or SGAE. Clearly, in Spain there is lack of tradition respecting intellectual property rights, something that Ruperto Chapí and Sinesio Delgado both fought from the very origins of this Institution. In addition, people are ignorant of what is being done with that money. For example focusing on what CEDOA earns from rental of performing materials, everything that comes in is re-invested in scores, making possible the important editing work we are developing in collaboration with ICCMU. Moreover, our rates – which are not very high because we are aware that we are working as a monopoly – have significant reductions applied when it comes to schools (to make it easier for young singers interpreting Spanish repertoire during their formative years) and Latin American countries, where despite economic difficulties much admirable work is done to consistently programme zarzuela.
What is the origin of the SGAE archive? Where did the documents come from?
CEDOA in SGAE is the most valuable archive of secular music in Spain; it preserves barely any religious music. The origin of our collection is Ruperto Chapí’s archive which was generously donated by the composer to Sociedad de Autores Españoles at the time it was founded. Following a series of incidents that occurred during the first two years of the newborn society, in 1901 the publisher Florencio Fiscowich sold his archive to SGAE, thus expanding the repertoire held covering the whole period of romantic zarzuela. From its inauguration the partners all deposited one copy of each of their theatrical compositions.
Thus the original archive was formed, containing about 1800 handwritten orchestral scores which we’ve already catalogued (the catalogue has also been published) and which we are in the process of digitally scanning. That part of the collection is of major bibliographical importance. In addition we have the huge archive of materials (divided between our Madrid headquarters, Barcelona and Valencia) from nearly ten thousand lyric theatre titles, a vast heritage of incalculable value. For every work in this part of the archive we have vocal scores, conducting scores, orchestral parts and libretti; this collection we are in the process of cataloguing. Then, CEDOA looks after the historical archives of the Unión Musical Española (UME), the largest music publisher in Spain [ed. now wholly owned by Music Sales Ltd.]; This collection of printed music also has an edited catalogue, now being digitized.
Is all funding of your archive derived from the portfolio historically managed by SGAE, or do you have material from other sources?
Except for ICCMU’s critical editions of older works from Spanish lyric theatre whose original scores are not here, all the material we keep – ancient or modern – comes under the SGAE portfolio. In fact every time we receive the legacy of a composer who was a member of the Society we incorporate new versions of the scores, but the works coming in are already part of our portfolio.
Is CEDOA a living archive, that’s to say do you accept new materials every day?
Well actually the lyric theatre section is pretty much dead. Except for critical editions or the scores of possible premieres (the last zarzuela was Los vagabundos by Manuel Moreno Buend ía) nowadays there is nothing. But the “symphonic” section (which actually includes everything that is not lyric theatre) is continually incorporating works by living Spanish and Latin American partners: each week between 100 and 150 new works come in.
Aside from the scores, the archive has an enormous collection of theatre texts: are they all librettos of lyric works? Is this collection catalogued?
Apart from the librettos that accompany each and every one of the archived works (99% of them edited), CEDOA has a collection of scripts – both spoken and music theatre – running to 600 bound volumes, containing some 12,000 titles. The total sum is in the order of 24,000 theatre works. The catalogue of this collection is available via the internet (on the website of Catálogo Colectivo del Patrimonio Bibliográfico Español). The only part of the Spanish lyric theatre collection for which we do not have the librettos is paradoxically one of the latest: the 20th century revistas [revues]. On many occasions revista texts were written or typed, maintained in a poor state. In many other cases, the libretto was not deposited in SGAE. Only the works of the most important composers dedicated to the genre - for example Jacinto Guerrero and Francisco Alonso – could count on the publication of revista texts.
Are there further archives of this kind, in Spain or elsewhere?
As far as zarzuela goes, excepting La rosa del azafrán published in recent years by Tritó, and two works by Manuel Penella (Don Gil de Alcalá and El gato montés) published by Quiroga, everything else is here. But many archives or libraries such as Hemeroteca de Madrid (a large number of editions for singer and piano), the Madrid library of the Fundación Juan March (an important collection of librettos), the National Library (original Barbieri, Chapí and Bretón manuscripts), the National Museum of Theatre in Almagro (originals by Fernández Caballero and Giménez), the National Library of Catalonia (original Vives) and the important museum of the Teatro Tacón in Havana (which also has a published catalogue) also look after important legacies.
As for cataloguing the remainder of your archive, what is yet to be completed?
We’ve worked on this for many years, but it is a very complex task: because there are many works, because it is dispersed amongst our three sites, and because many people have participated in its development. The catalogue is virtually complete, but it still needs a comprehensive review prior to bringing it into the light, which we expect to happen very soon.
What impact will the emergence of this long-anticipated catalogue make?
I think it is going to have a huge impact. For researchers, looking at the use already made of the other catalogues we’ve published, we anticipate that it will be an everyday tool of their work. But we also feel it will be very useful to orchestras, theatres and companies who programme zarzuela. In fact once it’s published we will try to send it to all universities offering the musicological study of music, and to the major programmers, to make them aware of our collection.
Who can access your archive? What qualifications are needed to come to study these bibliographic materials?
Since the creation of CEDOA access to the SGAE archive is free to all. We understand that the riches of this archive cannot be limited to members of SGAE and that we must open our doors to researchers, because there are things that can be found here and nowhere else. We are the custodians, but this is a common heritage and our foremost task is to share it.
Who would be a typical user?
Well, there are at least four types. First, the investigator (usually a musicologist) who is working on zarzuela or Spanish music, and who comes from anywhere in the world. Second, there are the conductors or managers of theatre companies, looking for material to mount on stage or in concert. Thirdly come opera or zarzuela singers, attempting to locate romanzas to perform in concerts or examinations (and who can find little in the marketplace because there are hardly any music stores). A fourth type of user is the amateur – many of them retired – developing a study of their own. But then you can find all sorts of people here, from those seeking the song which their parents heard when they first fell in love and who are now celebrating a golden wedding anniversary, through to someone trying to locate the music of a favourite television program – and a public service we must meet every kind of demand.
As the repository for practically all of zarzuela’s heritage, SGAE is a privileged observer of what is being done, both in Spain and beyond. Can you provide some factual information on the quantity being performed, and assess trends over the past few years?
I think we're seeing a terribly positive development. Since the creation of CEDOA we have seen steady growth in the programming of zarzuela. Probably zarzuela is now enjoying its best time. For example there are a lot of lyrical festivals throughout Spain, some of them already longstanding and with a faithful audience. In addition there are very good working companies such as Ópera Cómica de Madrid, which has for many years been developing the invaluable task of reviving forgotten repertoire, finding their own funding. A younger company, Innova Lyrica, also treads this path with a very ambitious programme; and then there’s the Compañía Lírica Dolores Marco, which last year took a risky bet of enormous value by reviving Rogel’s El joven Telémaco which they staged at Mérida under the title of Calipso. In addition each season the Teatro de la Zarzuela puts on some spectacular productions, which leaves us with a desire to see more than the four or five they stage each year. They also have an important programming policy aimed at children – key to forming tomorrow’s audiences – as well as touring to other theatres where they repeat their Madrid successes. I’d also highlight the dedication of Teatro Español and Teatro Real to zarzuela. On top of that many provincial centres are exploring their own zarzuela repertoires. For example, important work was carried out in our archive looking for zarzuelas with Asturian settings, which led to the anthology Emilio Sagi staged in Oviedo; then Mariano Rodríguez Saturio is preparing the critical edition of El salto del pasiego for its stage revival in Cantabria, and so on and so forth.
But if programming of zarzuela in Spain has grown rapidly, progress abroad has been even more spectacular. Its presence in anthologies and recitals is constant and growing, but that's not new, it’s been going on for years. Today Rolando Villazón has taken on the mantle of Plácido Domingo for the task, but many other singers also increasingly include zarzuela romanzas in their recitals and concerts. Moreover, iconic venues such as the Musikverein and the Opera in Vienna, or festivals of the importance of Salzburg, are scheduling zarzuela, igniting an enthusiastic response from the public and serving as a lever to encourage other centres and audiences. We have also seen many fully staged Spanish zarzuelas or operas outside Spain: La generala in Vienna, Doña Francisquita in Toulouse, Pan y toros in Castres, La verbena de la Paloma in Japan are just a few of the success stories of recent years. Finally, a very important detail highlighting the growing demand for the genre, is the call for sheet music of romanzas from many music schools across Europe, with a view to incorporating them in their students’ repertoire.
Let’s finish as we started, Mariluz, by finding out a little more about you. What does zarzuela mean in your life? How do you feel about this genre?
Well, the truth is that I am a total enthusiast for zarzuela. I am the type of person who likes what they like very much indeed. You see how I’m talking now, and I am not usually a very talkative person; but if something excites me it is very difficult to stop! I must confess that my first love was Barbieri – a character to whom no one is indifferent – and through whom I entered the world of zarzuela, whilst working on the preparation of the two volumes about his legacy, published by Emilio Casares through the Fundación Banco Exterior. For example I took on the transcription of his correspondence, something which initially stretches you a little but then helps you know a character from within. I consider myself terribly lucky, because I work in what I like and I am surrounded by some wonders you can’t find anywhere else. What’s more I feel that from here I can help a lot of people, musicologists who are sometimes very confused and do not know very well where and how to look; as I have also been an investigator I can put myself in their shoes and try to facilitate their task as much as possible. If I can play a small part to help promote the genre, I consider myself well paid.
Thank you for sharing your passion with us, Mariluz.
© Ignacio Jassa Haro 2007
15 October 2007