The Teatro de la Zarzuela recovers ‘Las Calatravas’, the last zarzuela by Pablo Luna

The Calatravas

In case of ‘Las Calatravas’, last zarzuela composed by Pablo Luna, is especially unique, surprising and, until today, sad. How is it possible that a work that obtains the most resounding and unanimous of successes, both public and critics, fall into oblivion almost immediately? It is very difficult to understand, and more if you take into account that the day of the premiere they had to be repeated, popular request, each and every number of the work. Well, there was not a trace of the prodigy. Nor was it re-enacted, nor was it recorded. Next September will be fulfilled already 80 years since that premiere at the Alcázar Theater in Madrid, and it is now when part of this unheard of and unforgivable oblivion can be amended since the days 12 Y 14 of March (20h00 and 18h00 respectively) he Teatro de la Zarzuela will present in concert version this work today absolutely unknown.

In this way, the coliseum once again complies with the inalienable requirements contained in its statutes such as the preservation, the Recovery, the revision and the diffusion of our operatic heritage. These are the obligatory tasks that the Theater meticulously fulfills each season at least twice.

‘Las Calatravas’, with libretto by Federico Romero and José Tellaeche, It premiered on 12 September 1941, and as the musicologist indicates Francisco Parralejo Mesa, with her Pablo Luna managed to create "A round score where all his virtues as a composer shone". In this way, and given the sudden death of the composer only four months after the premiere, Parralejo affirms that this lyrical comedy in three acts –as the author himself calls it– “was a beautiful and moving sonorous testament in which he was able to recover the spirit of his best works of the past ".

The two concerts that now do justice to the work, will be led by Guillermo García Calvo, musical director of the Teatro de la Zarzuela, who at the head of the Titular Orchestra of this, the BARREL, and its Titular Choir directed by Antonio Fauró, must face a especially melodious score, diverse and demanding.

It will also be a good opportunity to enjoy a cast very much in line with the needs that the work requires., integrated to Miren Urbieta-Vega, Andeka Gorrotxategi, Javier Franco, Lola Casariego, Lucia Tavira and Emmanuel Faraldo, as well as by the tenor Houari R. Lopez Aldama, member of the Titular Theater Choir.

Meanwhile, the actress Emma Suarez will act as narrator of a text adapted for the occasion by the award-winning playwright Paco Gamez, who explains that “this humble version of‘ Las Calatravas ’pretends to be a tribute to character actresses in charge of giving body and voice to the most unusual and eccentric characters; to the comedians who with their grace supported and sustain the weight of many plays and zarzuelas ", go on, "Without being as recognized as the first actresses or singers. Women comedians who make the public forget their sorrows, their day to day; thanks to the laughter, the smile and the laugh ".

The recording than Classic Radio will perform one of the two sessions, can also be considered a historical fact, since it will be the first sound record of the work.

As said, enthusiasm for Luna's work was unanimous. As Parralejo remembers, the critic Victor Ruiz Albéniz, to put one of many examples, expressed his excited outburst by ‘Las Calatravas’ after the premiere at the Alcázar Theater writing in ‘The Monday sheet’, among other lucid compliments, that “for more than two five-year years nothing so considerable has been released, of such high condition, so worthy of bearing the title of zarzuela like this work. "

And by way of conclusion, the musicologist launches several possible causes as triggers of the profound oblivion in which Pablo Luna's last stage work was plunged. “Solo his death and a radical shift in consumer habits prevented the work from remaining in the repertoire”. Today, but nevertheless, that silence unjustly prolonged for eight decades comes to an end. And Parralejo sentences: "As the protagonists of the work affirm in its final number, we can finally say that, for ‘Las Calatravas’, «The shadow that covered the sky fled / spent the night and the red is shining »".