Me llaman la Presumida (Alonso)

Angeles Gulín, Antonio Blancas, Pedro Lavirgen. Orquesta Sinfónica, c. Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
BMG 82876 501152

Maruja Vallojera, Luis Sagi-Vela, Salvador Castelló, María Téllez. Orquesta y Banda Odeón, c. Francisco Alonso
Blue Moon BMCD 7528 [extended highlights]

Me llaman is the last of the unofficial madrileño trilogy of zarzuelas with a contemporary setting in the capital, which commenced with Serrano's Los Claveles and continued with La del manojo de rosas.

It's hard to imagine it better done than in the recently reissued BMG performance under Frühbeck. Sadly Gulín, Gracia 'the presumptuous' of the title, died recently; so this attractively musical, vocally distinctive performance reappears as a timely tribute to her art. Opposite Gulín her real-life husband, Blancas, is in suave, open voice. If Lavirgen's big-voiced Pepe sounds clumsy beside this pair, his grainy tenor is still an asset, and the supporting characters are neatly etched. The direction is exciting, theatrical and beautifully controlled, the transfer though far from perfect is acceptable, and only the libretto and the wider dynamic range of the original gatefold LP have gone missing.Despite the parsimonious 41' playing time this is a must-have first choice.

The historical extracts on Blue Moon can also be recommended highly. This was effectively the original cast recording, and with Sagi-Vela and Vallojera on stunning form, and the composer himself in the pit - yes, it sounds that theatrical! - this is as authentic as it gets.