Agua, azucarillos y aguardiente (Chueca)

Teresa Tourne, Maria Reyes Gabriel, Ana Higueras, Segundo Garcia. Coro Cantores y Orquesta de Conciertos de Madrid, c. Pablo Sorozábal
EMI 5 74152 2

Ines Rivadeneira, Ana Maria Iriarte, Joaquín Portillo, Yolanda Otero, Selica Pérez Carpio. Coro Cantores y Orquesta de Conciertos de Madrid, c. Benito Lauret
BMG Alhambra WD-71433 [with dialogue]

María Rodríguez, Eduardo Santamaría, María Bayo, Carlos Bergasa, Raquel Lojendio Herrera. Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid, Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife, c. Víctor Pablo Pérez
Deutsche Grammophon 028947668282

Ana María Iriarte, María Angeles Carchena, Toñy Rosado, Teresa Berganza, Manuel Ortega, Antonio Pérez. Coro Cantores de Madrid, Orquesta Sinfónica, c. Ataulfo Argenta
Alhambra SC 69 [LP, nla]

Ines Rivadeneira, Isabel Penagos, José Foronda, José Granados, Ramón Alonso, Gregorio Gil, María Teresa Aristu, Carmen de León, Rafaela Aparicio, Luis Bellido, Rafael Castejón, Manuel Cebral, Orquesta y coros "Teatro Apolo", c. Odón Alonso
Zafiro 834 008-2 [with dialogue]

Amparo Romo, Salud Rodriguez, Pedro Vidal, Sr. López. c. Rafael Ferrer & ?
Blue Moon 7536 [highlights]

EMI offers a lively account of Chueca's best-loved work, a highly evocative diversion set in a Madrid pleasure park in the 1890's. It is coupled with a good performance of La Gran Via (Tourne taking both soprano roles) and offers fine value for money, especially in the superior new transfer.

Those wanting a complete recording with the dialogue - plenty of it! - well conducted by Benito Lauret should consider the Alhambra set, though it is comparatively pricy. With Rivadeneira and Iriarte in fine form as the warring drink sellers, Portillo a lubricious Serafín, and the fabled Pérez Carpio in one of her last recordings as his prospective mother-in-law and victim. This is highly recommended for Spanish speakers.

The 2009 DG issue operates at a low voltage, and suffers from over-compressed miscasting. Despite good choral and orchestral playing, and some characterful singing from Bayo and Rodríguez as the sparring vendors, this is mainly valuable for the stirring La Tempranica with which it is coupled. Like all other CD versions, it omits the short orchestral final.

The Zafiro set offers a judicious selection of dialogue, too; and Odón Alonso's alert direction catches the wit of the piece nicely. Rivadeneira's Pepa was more threadbare vocally by the late 1970's, but her sparring with Penagos's sumptuous Manuela is still a joy. The other roles are well taken - the young couple really do sound it! - and the presence of fine zarzuela actors such as Bellido and Castejón ensures the spoken dialogue goes with a swing. The serious problem is the recording (or CD transfer) which is congested to the point of distortion at times, especially in the delectable Waltz-Quartet. The CD is also now difficult to track down.

Blue Moon's highlights run to about 13' of the score. Romo and Rodriguez make a splendidly strident pair of combatants and this CD would make an enjoyable appendix to one of the more modern versions.