Teatro de la Zarzuela de Madrid
Ignacio Jassa Haro
The Teatro de la Zarzuela could well change its name to Teatro de la Danza, and no mistake. Going by the number of productions next season, the Temple of Jovellanos has five ballet stagings from four companies (National Ballet of Spain, National Dance Company, Julio Bocca Ballet Argentino and Angel Corella & Stars American Ballet) plus a gala in tribute to Antonio Gades. Against that there will only be four zarzuela productions and one opera, though certainly that means more performance days than are devoted to dance.
The September prologue to the sung seasonwhich as far as zarzuela is concerned will not begin until Decemberis an double bill of uncommon interest: Poulenc's La Voix Humaine preceded by the Jean Cocteau play which it sets (in a new Spanish version by Luis Antonio de Villena.) Gerardo Vera, director of both, lauded the quality of the Villena's text, which restores much lost in the previously familiar translation. He also lauded the excellence of his two heroinesEnglish soprano Felicity Lott and Argentine actress Cecilia Roth indeed promise exceptional casting.
I've previously taken issue with the style of zarzuela programming, which follows the previous seasons template with three premieres and one revival. La verbena de la Paloma will open with a prologue to honour the theatre's 150th anniversary; and certainly Bretón's masterpiece is one of the unquestionable landmarks of zarzuela that are due to be revived during the two next seasons. Then follows a well-merited revival of El barberillo de Lavapiés in Calixto Bieito's 1998 production. After this comes the turn of La tabernera del puerto, in its first new production for many years here, under the theatre's director Luis Olmos himself. The season closes with a género chico double bill: La boda... and El baile de Luis Alonso in a fresh new production by Santiago Sanchez.
If this sort of zarzuela programming continues, we must begin to doubt the theatre's ability to get up to speed in the way it needs. The new productions and revivals are touchstones of excellence, unquestionably. But the tiny number of them prevents the theatre moving ahead with a suitable policy whereby the repertory core is extended by the revivals of forgotten zarzuelas of fine quality, combined on one side with Spanish operas and an the other with European and American operettas, in an appropriate and needful extension of the theatre's work.
There is one extenuating circumstance to take into account: the theatre's developing policy for national tours and one remarkable foreign excursion. Oviedo once again takes five productionsas a "second home for the theatreand Auditorio de Murcia is added to the list of tour venues. Mexico is to welcome the Quixote double bill. Adding these performances in, the theatre will mount a total of nine zarzuela productions in almost one hundred and forty performances.
I must confess myself disappointed to find that the 150th anniversary of the theatre has not proved of sufficient weight to bring about a richer presence of Spanish lyric works, counted either by productions or total performances. In fact this season presents nothing extraordinary, except in so far as all programmed works are of excellent quality. The Teatro de la Zarzuela has let slip a golden opportunity to further define its character. Will it be able to take it in the following season, which is purely to celebrate this anniversary of its foundation?
© Ignacio Jassa Haro 2005
TEATRO LA ZARZUELA
10 December 200522 January
10 February 11 March 2006
28 April 28 May 2006
23 June 23 July 2006
TEATRO LA ZARZUELA
XXXIII Festival Internacional Cervantino
Murcia, Auditorio Murcia
Valladolid, Teatro Calderón
1-4 February 2006
Sevilla, Teatro la
Oviedo, Teatro Campoamor XIII Festival Teatro Lírico Español Asturias
14-18 February 2006
21-25 March 2006
2-6 May 2006
23-27 May 2006
13-17 June 2006