Deutsche Grammophon

Deutsche Gramophon - "El duo de La africana"
Manuel Fernández Caballero
El dúo de La africana
Zarzuela in one act, text by Miguel de Echegaray

Cast El dúo de La africana: Luis Álvarez (Cherubini); María Rodríguez (La Antonelli); Guillermo Orozco (Giussepini); Trinidad Iglesias (Amina); Pedro Miguel Martínez (El Bajo); Milagros Ponti (Doña Serafina); Javier Ferrer (Inocencio Pérez); Isabel Ayúcar (Maestra repetidora); José Antonio Sanguino (Un inspector)

The “auditions”: Isabel Rey (Luisa, Las carceleras from Las hijas del Zebedeo by Ruperto Chapí; María José Montiel (Carmen in the habanera from Carmen by Georges Bizet); Esperanza Roy (Sul in los cuplés babilónicos from La corte de Faraón by Vicente Lleó); Ana María Sánchez (María la Tempranica in “Sierras de Granada” from La Tempranica by Gerónimo Giménez)

Coro de la Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid; Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid; Jesús López Cobos (Conductor)

Deutsche Grammophon 0028947630036
[2-CD; 65:17 + 54:23]

[rec. Teatro Real, Madrid, 30-31 December 2003]


Deutsche Grammophon brings to the table in a luxury edition a new recording of El dúo de La africana, a work close to the heart of género chico. The performance was recorded live at Madrid's Teatro Real at the end of December 2003. The cast is led by the brilliant Luis Álvarez, with the workmanlike María Rodriguez and Guillermo Orozco in support.

The set is curiously presented in double disc format: one CD contains the complete zarzuela (music and dialogue) whilst the other includes just the music (free of applause in all numbers except those which close each scene.) This disc includes as appendices the "auditions" that impresario Cherubini granted to four outstanding artists in the New Year's Eve performance. Including the dialogue is something relatively novel in zarzuela recordings; nevertheless the resultant duplication of music is a waste of resources, when CD players today allow us to select which tracks to listen to, and in which order to do it!

The sound is generally good, without annoying distortions or stage noise, although there are some moments when a soloist's voice is lost, being audible only in the distance through the ambient microphones.

El duo de la Africana - the 1987 production (different cast from the DG release)

The graphic design of the discs is attractive - very far away from the traditional iconography of zarzuela recordings - and is accompanied by a bilingual Spanish/English booklet containing besides the plot synopsis and complete libretto an interesting essay on this zarzuela by Nuria Blanco Álvarez, a specialist on Manuel Fernández Caballero's music.

Congratulations on this initiative, which relies on sponsorship from the Fundación Caja Madrid; we may hope that it's the start of a second series of recordings following the artistically successful collection released on the Auvidis label a decade ago, supported by this same banking foundation.

© Ignacio Jassa Haro 2005

[Ed. note. This beautifully designed edition is of special value for English-speakers, containing as it does the first published version in our language of the complete text of El dúo de La africana, dialogue as well as musical numbers, all excellently translated by Susannah Howe.]


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