Anselmo Cuadrado Carreño

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Anselmo Cuadrado Carreņo
Anselmo Cuadrado Carreño
(1896 - 1952)

Born 1896 in Segovia, where his family were wealthy carpet manufacturers, Carreño was amongst the most prolific and successful zarzueleros of his day. The few libretti he wrote unaided have not remained in the repertoire, although at least one - Sorozábal's Sol en la cumbre (1934) is certainly worthy of revival. Carreño died in Madrid on 16th May 1952.

Many of his best remembered theatre pieces were put together in collaboration with Luis Fernández de Sevilla, although he wrote in partnership with other writers as well. Amongst their first works together was La vaquerita (Rosillo, 1924). Many successes followed, including La prisionera (Serrano and Balaguer, 1927); the evergreen La del soto del Parral (Soutullo and Vert, 1927); La mejor del puerto (Alonso, 1928); and La Cautiva (Guridi, 1931).

Their epochal Los Claveles (Serrano, 1929) stands somewhat apart. This was the first of an unofficial madrileño trilogy which make up a colourful and revealing picture of the capital in the frantic years before the Spanish Civil War, though Carreño went on to bring out the other two - La del manojo de rosas (Sorozábal, 1934) and Me llaman la Presumida (Alonso, 1935) - with another popular comic writer, Francisco Ramos de Castro. With Ramos de Castro, Carreño also wrote La boda del Señor Bringas (Torroba, 1936), and amongst the later collaborations with de Sevilla Don Manolito (Sorozábal, 1943) stands out as perhaps the last perfect flowering of the sainete madrileño tradition.

It is difficult to speak with any degree of certainty, but Carreño is not credited with the lion's share of the writing with de Sevilla, or for that matter with Ramos de Castro. His most significant contribution would seem to lie in his bold and even innovative theatrical imagination. For example, Ascención's romanza in La del manojo de rosas acts brilliantly as a bridge between two distinct scenes, starting in one location and ending in another. Although this is now a commonplace of the musical theatre, Carreño seems to be the first writer to have attempted the trick. At all events, many of the robust libretti he wrote with de Sevilla and Ramos Castro have stood the test of time admirably.

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