La revoltosa
Music: Ruperto Chapí
Text: José López Silva / Carlos Fernández Shaw

Milagros Martin / Javier Alaba
Milagros Martín and Javier Alaba

reviewed by Andrew Lamb


Cast includes: Milagros Martín (Mari-Pepa); Javier Alaba (Felipe); Rafael Castejon (Candido); Alfonso del Real (Candelas); Luis Villarejo (Tiberio); Pedro Valentin (Atenedero); María Teresa Cortes (Soledad), Chari Moreno (Gorgonia), Alejandro Bellido (Chupitos); Pepa Rosado (Encarna); Ana Siles, Mari Cruz Diaz, Rosaura de Andrea, Concepción Arroyo, Amparo Moya (neighbours), Maria Fernanda Quintana, Enrique Frias (dancers)

Coro del Teatro Lírico Nacional / José Perera;
Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid / c. Miguel Roa
Design: Gil Parrondo; Costumes: Juan Antonio Cidron;
Director: José Luis Alonso
1987 RTVE relay from Teatro de la Zarzuela

[ Circulo Digital, Obras Maestras de la Lírica no.2, 14.5 Euros]
TT = c 70' + 20'


There is, of course, a choice of DVDs of La Revoltosa, since the 1968 television film directed by Juan de Orduña is still available. How fascinating it would be if the 1925 silent film in which Orduña played the part of Felipe were too!

Given their very different aims and resources, the two available versions offer sharply contrasted experiences. Orduña dubs onto a pre-recorded soundtrack a location-shot film decked out with street scenes, crowd scenes and additional character-establishing shots. By contrast this 1987 relay from the Teatro de la Zarzuela presents views of the theatre and of the performance of the overture shot from the dark recesses of the orchestral pit, after which we have the theatre production pure and simple. Where Orduña cut out some of the exchanges between characters to boost the spectacle, this theatre relay gives us the whole text, including the central dialogue-only scene next to a churros stall.

One result of this last point is that there is rather more dialogue here than non-Spanish speakers may ideally prefer. It is, though, part and parcel of establishing the mood of this particular version. Where Orduña offers us fireworks (quite literally), José Luis Alonso offers more homespun emotions. Orduña presents his heroine as a sexual temptress, but Milagros Martín’s Mari-Pepa is more the simple home-loving girl who just happens to be the most attractive young thing in this particular tenement. Instead of big city seduction, it’s suburban affection, and the love duet between Mari-Pepa and Felipe rightly regains its climactic position. Appropriately tender and affecting, it’s altogether more movingly and convincingly played and sung here by Milagros Martín and Javier Alaba than in the Orduña film.

The difference between the two interpretations is heightened, too, by the approach of the two conductors. Whereas Federico Moreno Torroba supports Orduña’s concept by whipping up maximum excitement out from the crowd scenes and the fiery Spanish rhythms, Miguel Roa offers an altogether more leisurely – arguably even slack – interpretation.

Gorgonia attack! (Chari Moreno)
Gorgonia attack! (Chari Moreno)

Among the supporting players I particularly enjoy Chari Moreno’s formidable – indeed truly gargantuan – Gorgonia, and Alfonso del Real’s trumped-up official, moustache all a-twitching. Gil Parrondo has devised an effective tenement set, seen in its full glory as night falls and stars are seen in the sky behind. Among the many attractions of having a genuine theatre production the advantage of seeing performers actually speaking and singing their own lines ranks high. On the other hand, this live relay has some lapses of ensemble early on, and there are also more lasting variations of sound and light levels.

The DVD’s extras – all in Spanish – include a synopsis and information on the work and its creators. If this is not quite the knock-out success of the companion Chulapona release, it’s still marvellous to have one of the enduring classics of the zarzuela repertory brought direct to our homes from the Teatro de la Zarzuela itself.

© Andrew Lamb, 2004


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