Thursday, 21 February 2008

Afternoon at the Zarzuela

Go to a matinée performance at the Teatro de la Zarzuela. Zarzuela is a Spanish variant of operetta. There's an excellent Web site about it at zarzuela.net and all in English.

The current production is “La Generala” (something like “Mrs General” or “The General's Wife”, referring to the wife of a Venezuelan army General), a romantic comedy about penniless recently-deposed king and queen from an imaginary central European kingdom who have gone to live in exile in England. They plot to manoeuvre and cajole their son into marrying a wealthy princess. The programme notes for the production are by British musicologist Andrew Lamb, translated into Spanish. The original article, La Generala: When Vienna Comes to Madrid is published in English on zarzuela.net and the plot synopsis is helpfully in English the printed programme. Andrew Lamb's article is so thorough that there isn't much more for me to say here. It was first performed in 1912 at the Gran Teatro de Madrid, now no longer in existence, but which I read with curiosity in an article on the Madrid Histórico website was once where now stands the Instituto Francés or French Institute, but which burnt down in 1920, the current institute conserving the original façade, which I must remember to investigate next time I'm in the area.

The performance started at six, attended by what seemed to be mainly a mixture of elderly people and young children with their mothers. Being Wednesday the tickets were discounted, a bargain at only €11, and I was back home in time for dinner.

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