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Home Culture ‘La verbena de la Paloma’ is tinged with nostalgia at the Teatro de la Zarzuela | Culture

‘La verbena de la Paloma’ is tinged with nostalgia at the Teatro de la Zarzuela | Culture

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End of the prologue ‘Goodbye, Apolo’, by Álvaro Tato.Elena del Real

Tomás Bretón regretted the unexpected success of his lyrical farce The Paloma Festival. “This causes pain and shame! This is our poor country! “He walks towards his redemption with a slowness that exasperates,” he confessed in a letter to Infanta Paz de Borbón, a few days after its premiere, in February 1894. The composer from Salamanca, who had represented The lovers of Teruel at the Vienna Opera, he aspired to update Spanish music by adapting Italian, French and German models in his stage titles to make them competitive on an international level.

But he also added that operatic mastery to the boy genre without betraying its folkloric essence. And the result was the universal and popular masterpiece that we all know. It is explained by Víctor Sánchez, author of Thomas Breton. A Restoration musician (ICCMU), in the excellent program of the new production of the Teatro de la Zarzuela, premiered on May 8. The composer applies the recipe of the Rossinian opera buffa in the initial speaker of Don Hilarión, brings Julián’s romance closer to Verdian melodrama and uses the leitmotif Wagnerian to allude to or portray characters. And it is even easy to think of Beethoven when listening to the nocturnal evocative accompaniment of the watchman and the guards.

That same musical ambition could be heard from the pit, at last Wednesday’s premiere. The Madrid-born José Miguel Pérez Sierra performed with mastery, leading a precise and disciplined Orchestra of the Community of Madrid, in his first performance as musical director of the Jovellanos Street Coliseum. We verified this in the wonderful orchestral medley of the prelude, which sounded like an ideal dramatic summary, from the festive and crazy initial habanera to its final slow and expressive version on the flute and propelled by the violins.

Performance of 'La verbena de la Paloma', on May 8 at the Teatro de la Zarzuela.
Performance of ‘La verbena de la Paloma’, on May 8 at the Teatro de la Zarzuela.Elena del Real

The new production by choreographer Nuria Castejón took advantage of the prelude as a colorful dance number. And that natural inclination towards movement brought a brilliant dynamism to her entire stage proposal, completely traditional and respectful of the libretto by sainetero Ricardo de la Vega. A management which is also a tribute tinged with nostalgia towards his parents Pepa Rosado and Rafael Castejón, two generic historical figures of zarzuela. With an attractive set design by Nicolás Boni, which evokes the balconies of the La Latina neighborhood, the nocturnal atmosphere of Albert Faura’s lighting along with the distinction and customs of Gabriela Salaverri’s costumes.

The vocal and acting cast was excellent and compact. The versatile Antoni Comas composed a great apothecary Don Hilarión with a pathetic dandy air and risky corpographies in his couplets. Don Sebastian is right.. The baritone Borja Quiza was a brilliant Julián on an acting level and with undoubted vocal packaging, although also somewhat inexpressive and lacking in dynamic contrasts. Its famous habanera Where are you going with a Manila shawl? He benefited from the dark and dramatic tone that the soprano Carmen Romeu brings to his girlfriend, the chulapa Susana. Well, her sister Casta with Ana San Martín along with the sensational Seña Rita de Milagros Martín. And the five shone in an ideally accompanied and staged quintet that was one of the best moments of the night.

Of the rest, Gerardo López brought naturalness to Don Sebastián, Gurutze Beitia was an ideal Tía Antonia and the actor Rafa Castejón stood out as an innkeeper. But we should also highlight the soleá Streams and fountains, sung by the singer Sara Salado, and the piano accompaniment of Ramón Grau, who also participated in the mazurka of the chulapas scene with Don Hilarión. But another of the strengths of this production is the Main Choir of the Teatro de la Zarzuela that shone in another of the most famous moments: the seguidillas For being the Virgin of the Dove.

This new production of Bretón’s sainete has been preceded by the absolute premiere of a successful comic-lyrical prologue entitled Goodbye, Apollo, by the playwright Álvaro Tato. A fun evocation of the 45 minutes prior to the last performance of The Paloma Festival, on June 30, 1929, before the definitive closure of the Teatro Apolo, the legendary sanctuary of the small genre where it had premiered on Alcalá Street. Another nod to nostalgia that combines witty dialogue with a seductive portrait of the show business of the time. But also seasoned with several musical numbers from classic titles, such as The Gran Viaby Federico Chueca, and current as The green envelopeby Jacinto Guerrero.

‘The Pigeon Festival’

Music by Thomas Breton. Booklet of Ricardo de la Vega. Cast: Antonio Comas (Don Hilarion), Gerardo Lopez (Don Sebastian), Borja Quiza (Julian), Milagros Martin (Sister Rita), Carmen Romeu (Susana), Ana San Martin (Casta), Gurutze Beitia (Aunt Antonia), Sara Salado (Singer), Rafa Castejón (Tavern), among others. Headliner Choir of the Zarzuela Theatre. Orchestra of the Community of Madrid. Musical direction: Jose Miguel Perez Sierra. Stage direction: Nuria Castejón. Zarzuela Theatre, May 8th. Until May 25th.

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