Cecilia Valdés (Roig)

Alina Sánchez, Adolfo Casas, Ramón Cazadillas, Annia Linares. Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, c. Félix Guerrero

Blanca Varela, Armando Pico, Julita Muñoz, Miguel de Grandy. Coro y Orquesta CMQ, c. Gonzalo Roig
EMI Hispavox 5 73417 2 (1962 TV version)

Ruth Fernández, Martha Perez, Aida Pujol, Francisco Naya. c. Gonzalo Roig
Montilla CDFM 118

The EGREM recording of Roig's greatest zarzuela, based on a 19th century classic of Cuban literature, stemmed from a 1990 Havana production. It contains more music than either of the versions conducted by the composer, in line with his later, two-act 1961 revision of the score. Although it is seriously undocumented, the performance goes with a swing, and is the top choice. Guerrero conducts with a lifetime's experience of the cuban style at his disposal and the results are very involving.

Extracts from this performance, featuring the vivid Sánchez in the title role, on make up the final part of a Parnaso compilation which makes a very useful introduction to the three staples of zarzuela cubana.

Of the composer's two readings, the Hispavox is readily available in a Caribe Productions reissue from Cuba (number unknown.) It is better sung and recorded, and - taken from a 1962 television production of the revised, two-act version - it offers a fuller text. Varela has touching charm in the title role. Yet in spite of all that, the old Montilla set of the earlier, 1932 score (pretty baldly transferred from the 1948 '78s' set), has a zest which its newer rival does not quite match - not least when it comes to Fernández's extraordinary Dolores Santa Cruz.