Let’s be clear at the start: José Prieto Marugán, with these two books on El huésped del Sevillano and La parranda, has tried to write as much for aficionados and experts in the genre, as for newcomers and neophytes. Critical and academic literature on either work is not thick on the ground; in the realm of zarzuela, generally, it is not easy to find monographs of this scope about particular works – now, I think, almost exclusively in Teatro de la Zarzuela’s programme books, whose distribution is, for sure, very limited.
The author has shaped both texts in a similar way. He begins by commenting on the specific history of each title and the circumstances of the premiere. In the case of El huésped he goes deeper in a separate chapter, into the controversy which its librettists maintained after the premiere with Díez-Canedo, the critic from El Sol. For La parranda the author offers full details of the openings in cities outside Madrid, such as Seville, Murcia and Havana. Next come a study of the characters and their first interpreters, of the story and the theatrical and musical structure of each work. The books are completed by detailed commentaries on audio and DVD versions, and with the complete libretto of each zarzuela, with added footnotes about regional dialect and antiquated words, as well as differences between the complete score and the recorded versions.
The layout is carefully enough done. In both cases the feeling is like being faced with a notebook chock full of press reports and graphics, engravings, images of Toledo and Murcia, maps, plates and photos of monuments or places related to the works… Visually, both offer highly diverting delights, though I’d specially recommend La parranda, published on satin paper and boasting four colour images of Emilio Sagi’s unforgettable 2004-2005 season staging for Teatro de la Zarzuela.
For lovers of these two genuine masterworks of Hispanic lyric theatre, such as the person writing these lines… for those who are approaching them for the first time… these two books are for everyone, and let’s hope they are just the first in a published series. Moving forward, after the good taste in the mouth that reading these commentaries has left, we can only hope it will soon be possible for us to see a good staging of such a jewels as El huésped del Sevillano, and absolutely complete digital recordings of both works.
© Enrique Mejías García
El huésped del Sevillano (José Prieto
Marugán) Ed. Ledoria, 2005. 158 pp. 84-95690-16-0
2 October 2007