an overview of the status and progress of zarzuela

Pedro Gómez Manzanares

(Madrid, 25 July 2007)

María Luz González Peña
SGAE - Palacio de Longoria

I spent a hot July 25th in SGAE with Mariluz González Peña. Emerging from the metro nearby SGAE, I walked down Me jía Lequerica, the street honouring that great though short-lived Ecuadorian (1775-1813) whose most exciting time was in Madrid, where after 1807 he assisted the popular uprising against the invading French troops as a member of the people’s militia, before becoming a parliamentary representative. This leads direct to Calle Fernando VI (1713-1759), named after that oft-overlooked great monarch who died in Villaviciosa de Odón. Ironically enough he was a great supporter of Italian opera, and some say that if his reign (alongside his consort Bárbara de Braganza) had lasted a few years more, the unsteady foundations of La Zarzuela would have been undermined, never again to rise from the ashes.

On this street sits the magnificent art nouveau building now housing SGAE: the former Palacio de Longoria, built to the design of José Grases Riera who oversaw its construction between 1902-1904. The modernist architect also left his mark on Spanish music drama with the construction of the Teatro Lírico, of which only the façade remains following a devastating fire. It is now part of the French Lycée, on Calle Marqués de la Enseñada. Entering such a spectacular building our own “littleness” can be daunting, not least when the edifice contains the primary legacy of zarzuela, among countless other treasures. After negotiating several corridors and descending to the depths, I found Mariluz with record books ready to hand, for me to spend happy hours analysing in one of the reading rooms.

The Archive Library

My aim was to get an overview of the status and progress of zarzuela outside Spain in the last few years. Navigating and analyzing the data step by step led me to the conclusions I now reveal. First I reviewed the statistical data concerning the number of applications from outside Spain for scores, usually one-off numbers, that had been received and dealt with. It appears that from 2000 to 2006 there has been an increase of nearly 280% in the demand for scores. And if the pace current at July 25th is maintained, I anticipate that this year could see an increase of nearly 20% over 2006.

The analysis by country shows that Germany, with over 21% of the total requests since 2000 stands out; it is also the country showing the highest annual growth. The United States followed with 13%, France with 9% and the UK and Mexico with 8%. There are requests from Japan, Malaysia, Monaco, China, the Vatican, Hong Kong, Israel…. In short, a total of 45 countries. At the national level applications from inside Spain show smaller progress, with an increase of 43% between 2000 and 2006. The increase this current year looks to be in line with the previous figures.

The companies / groups / individuals most prominent by number of applications over the past few years are: Miguel Alonso’s company, the groups led by Antonio Lagar and Mar ía Dolores Travesedo, Teatro de la Zarzuela, Maestro Antonio Torres, the group headed by Loli Miras and José Luis Alcalde, the company of Nieves Fernández de Sevilla and Maestro Irastorza, Félix San Mateo’s company, Orquesta Martín y Soler, Francisco Matilla, Miramón Mendi ( Jose Luis Moreno), Innova Lyrica.

But it is important to note that many new names have appeared in recent years. Several groups come from above, but others are new groups that are throughout the Iberian peninsula. These include: Acorde Tonal, Compañía Lírica de Zarzuela de Madrid, Asociación Cultural Juan Autxieta, Compañía Lírica Dolores Marco, Espectáculos Candilejas, the aforementioned Innova Lyrica, Saga Producciones, Grupo Lírico Maestro Serrano, Orquesta Filarmonía, KL Ópera.

I am not surprised to find the works most in demand are La del manojo de rosas (15%), La tabernera del puerto (12%), La verbena de la Paloma(11%), La del Soto del Parral (10%), Los gavilanes (9%), andLuisa Fernanda (9%). These 6 account for 66% of the total.

I conclude that at the international level there is very positive development in the demand for zarzuela. It is clear that increased awareness plays a great role in this development. Moreover it seems that the annual increase is exponential. It is true that the requests are usually for single pieces, but this fact cannot be viewed as a negative, merely the prelude to greater advances. It is also clear that each year sees an increase in the number of titles requested, so knowledge of the genre is growing not only geographically but also musically.

At the national level there is also an annual increase, albeit at a slower rate. The number of companies is large, and whilst some change their names or even disappear, it is also undeniable that new groups are appearing on the scene. Sadly the titles requested are usually the same; only rarely are forgotten zarzuelas revived, and by a very few companies at that.

As a final conclusion, we must bear in mind that the lynchpin of these results is the editorial work of ICCMU. It seems clear that since they began editing zarzuela scores and producing new parts, SGAE has been able to offer – especially of interest abroad – working materials that were simply not available a few years ago.

Thanks to Mariluz for her cooperation: I am highly optimistic about the data-gems uncovered from inside that architectural jewel in which I worked.

© Pedro Gomez Manzanares, 2007
tr. Christopher Webber

 en español
 Interview with María Luz González Peña

 Catálogo Colectivo del Patrimonio Bibliográfico Español

 zarzuela homepage

4 December 2007