María Blanca (Vidal Tolosa)

Montserrat Muñumel, Rafael Coloma, Rosario Ruiz, Enrique R. del Portal, Angel Walter, d. Ricardo Vidal Tolosa
Produciones LUNA 027296

Ricardo Vidal Tolosa's zarzuela has a romatic plot based on an episode in the Carlist Wars in 1874. It was premiered in 1955, and enjoyed a brief success in the Spanish provinces and in Madrid. The composer himself put together this recording in 1999, with a small but accurate chorus and more than competent young cast - outstandingly Portal, well-known for his Cardona on the Sony CD set of Doña Francisquita under Miguel Roa.

There are two problems. The score itself, though theatrically viable, is a pure throwback to pre-war days, bereft of any sustained musical interest and lacking in personality. Even more crucially, "orchestral" accompaniment is provided by a disconcerting electronic simulation, and the singers are placed in an artificial bathtub acoustic in a vain attempt to homogenise the whole. María Blanca can only be of interest to insatiable completists.