Las Calatravas at the Teatro de la Zarzuela

Guillermo García Calvo

He Teatro de la Zarzuela counts among its activities and achievements the recovery of the national musical heritage. And this year it has fulfilled that task through "Las Calatravas", lyrical comedy in three acts and last composition by the teacher Pablo Luna what, besides being a prolific composer, had a great business vision. He always knew how to correctly pick up the tastes of the public and the theatrical trends of the moment. the libretto, that delighted the bourgeoisie of the time, was commissioned by Luna to the prestigious Federico Romero and José Tellaeche, a great success at a time when censorship was working at full throttle.

The premiere at the Alcázar Theater in Madrid on 12 September 1941 it was a total success. The chronicles say that all the numbers of the work were repeated, the 15, something unusual. Despite the sweet moment that zarzuela was going through, was about to start its decline, when entering competition with the cinema. On the other hand, Pablo Luna complained about the demands of an audience that asked for a premiere every week. What forced him to compose without rest. This may be one of the reasons why Las Calatravas, among other, not re-enact.

For this staged version, the now traditional adaptation of the text has been used, this time by Paco Gámez, who has done an extraordinary job to perfectly narrate the plot to the public using very few interventions. For this he has used one of the characters in the work, Mrs. Aldonza, the poor aunt of the two protagonist and only character who does not sing.

Doña Aldonza has been interpreted by a masterful Emma Suarez. He has presented us with all the characters and scenes with humor and the naturalness and ingenuity of the great ladies of the interpretation.

Through Doña Aldonza it has also been tried to value all those comic and secondary actresses who always remained in the background with respect to the divas and protagonists.

Maestro Luna's music is of extraordinary quality. He uses music from different genres in Las Calatravas and matches them with the characters. European music, how much I admired, accompany the younger generation of characters, like Cristina or Carlos Alberto. And the fandangos accompany the banker José Mariani.

The voices live up to the score, closer to verismo than zarzuela. Miren Urbieta, with his powerful lyrical soprano voice, she played Cristina Calatrava without great theatrical features, but with a great sound and beautiful timbre.

the tenor Andeka Gorrochategui gave life to the libertine Carlos Alberto. He perfectly accompanied Cristina Calatrava in timbral power and seemed less exerted in the broadcast than on other occasions, which is appreciated.

Lola Casariego played the widow Calatrava, with his usual elegance, but covered on numerous occasions by the orchestra and the rest of the voices. Javier Franco, like José Mariani, dealt with the most complex paper and did it with solvency and elegance. It only lacked volume.

The rest the cast was at great height. The Isabel of Cordoba Lucia Tavira, the Pepe Hallelujah of Emmanuel Faraldo and Rodrigo del tenor Houari R. Lopez Aldama.

Teacher García Calvo has done a very good job leading the orchestra. You can see his rigor and love for the genre, who is a good connoisseur. Loudness and exquisiteness in the direction of an important score. The chorus, although far away and with a mask, rang with the same spirit.