We have news of an extensive exhibition from Fundación Guerrero, centred on the use of photography in marketing and promoting zarzuela, from the middle of the 19th century until 1950. Curated by our colleague Ignacio Jassa Haro – himself an avid collector of performance postcards and other music-theatrical memorabilia – Fotografías animadas ('animated photographs') presents a wealth of graphic art from scores, posters, magazines, books and of course mass-printed trading cards, publicity postcards and gramophone record covers, focused particularly on zarzuela’s great female divas, from Arana to Gámez.
The exhibits have been assembled from private collections, as well as CEDOA (the documentation and archive centre of SGAE) and the Guerrero Foundation’s own archive, particularly rich in material from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Its rationale draws on Robert W. Paul’s revolutionary “moving photographs”, presented at London’s Alhambra Theatre in 1896; and on Ruega, Prieto and Chueca’s one-act zarzuela Fotografías animadas o El arca de Noé from the following year – famously, the composer was himself a keen amateur photographer.
These markers point the way to the melding of image and music theatre in what the Guerrero Foundation has described as “an unprecedented and innovative exhibition”, looking at zarzuela through the lens of photography’s contemporary art. With free entry, this enticing and varied display is a must for visitors to Madrid this spring.
© Christopher Webber, Enrique Mejías García