Francisco Camprodón

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& Christopher Webber
Last updated July 26th 2000

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Francisco Camprodon
Francisco Camprodón
(1816 - 1870)

Francisco Camprodón y Safont was born in Vich, Cataluña during 1816, and died quietly in retirement at Havana (Cuba) in 1870. After some early years spent in Cadiz, he returned to Barcelona where his first play Flor de un día was successfully premiered, to be swiftly taken up in Madrid. Moving to the capital, he soon became one of the leading spirits in the revival of native theatre, especially the zarzuela.

Like several of his fellow writers at the dawning of Spanish nationalism, he felt his way tentatively, first translating comedies from the French. Only after he had acquired confidence in his technique did he launch into the creation of original Spanish plays and libretti.

Many of his zarzuelas were written for with Barbieri and Gaztambide, although he also provided work for Arrieta, amongst others. His best-known works for Barbieri was Los diamantes de la corona (from a French original, 1854); though El vizconde (1855), and El diablo en el poder (1856) also made their mark. With Gaztambide his major successes included El lancero (1857), the one-act gem Una vieja (1860), El diablo las carga (1860), and Una niña (1861).

El dominó azul (1853, an adaptation of a recent French libretto by Scribe for Auber) deserves revival, mainly for Arrieta's ripely sophisticated score. Camprodón also collaborated with him on the original, zarzuela version of Marina (1855), adapted after his death by Miguel Ramos Carrión into the longer, operatic version still popular today.

He encouraged Caballero in his early career, and the young composer enjoyed his best success to date with La jardinera (1857), though its effect was short-lived. A genial, generous man much mourned at his death, the best of Camprodón's plays and libretti - such as the original Marina - demonstrate a fluent clarity which was a model for later writers.

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