The Teatro de la Zarzuela opens “La Celestina”, by Felipe Pedrell

La Celestina

The statutes that govern the spirit and functioning of the Teatro de la Zarzuela they make it clear: the coliseum erected in 1856 should, without any pretext, safeguard and spread the Spanish lyric genre. And so it acts season after season, so they are already 16 titles rescued from oblivion.

Precisely the 2022/23, the one that concerns us now, will open with premiere of a Spanish opera – lyrical tragicomedy in four acts, if we stick to the dictates of the author himself – whose premiere should have taken place ago 120 years, nothing less. We talk about 'La Celestina' by Felipe Pedrell, mature work of the Catalan composer who effectively will ring in a few days for the first time because even though it was planned to premiere it at the Liceo in the year 1902 (and later in other theaters, including the Zarzuela), never saw the light.

The only thing that has been heard to date (and since then it has rained) there have been a couple of scenes that Pau Casals included in a concert in 1921 to honor the composer. Even so, It is a work of great importance, that influenced contemporary composers and especially later, in which Pedrell captures his national opera idea.

In "The Celestine", which has libretto by the musician himself based on the tragicomedy of ‘Calisto and Melibea’ by Fernando de Rojas, his enormous respect for the original work of the 15th century is evident.

for all that said, on Friday 9 (20h00) and Sunday 11 of September (18h00) They will be historic and exciting days for our lyrical, since the notes of 'La Celestina' will finally arrive, with twelve decades late, to the ear and the heart of the public. The value of this premiere in concert version it is even bigger, since in addition to repairing a historical grievance, will serve to commemorate the centenary of the death of Felipe Pedrell that the past was fulfilled 19 of August. And as the occasion more than deserves it, Radio Clásica of Radio Nacional de España will broadcast it on the same Sunday 11 at 20h00 (Spanish CET).

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 staggeringly demanding score.

It will also be a good opportunity to enjoy the solo voices of a cast that generously covers those very special requirements that Pedrell's work demands, composed by Maite Beaumont (Celestine), Miren Urbieta-Vega (melibea), Andeka Gorrotxategi (Calisto), Juan Jesus Rodriguez (Sempronio), Simon Orfila (Parmen), Sofia Esparza (Lucrecia), Lucia Tavira (Elicia), Gemma Coma-Alabert (Areusa), Javier Castaneda (I will plead), Was Sea (tristan) and Isaac Galan (Impersonator).

a cult opera

The Teatro de la Zarzuela once again enters the best of the operatic history of our country. "The Celestine", as the teacher of musicologists points out Emilio Casares, It was a cult opera. “It constituted –according to the words of the researcher– a kind of myth for that golden generation of names so meaningful, all Pedrell students, as Enrique Granados, Isaac Albeniz, Amadeo Vives, Enrique Morera, Manuel de Falla, Juan Manén, Adolfo Salazar O Roberto Gerhard”. there is nothing.

This emblematic work, never released, it was nonetheless known through his piano edition of 1903 and admired since then. Only Pablo Casals announced in 1921 those two numbers we talked about, and that they served pay tribute to a great friend at a concert.

Casares maintains that “this cultural intelligence act of the Teatro de la Zarzuela” (the programming of Pedrell's work) is loaded by all of the above meaning, “and once again reminds us of the drama of being an opera composer in Spain”. we will watch, 120 years after its creation, to the world premiere of an operasteeped in history, cult, we would say today, and without a doubt, the most mature of all the pedrellian production, what, by the way, Manuel de Falla –huge admirer of the musician from Tortosa– tried to premiere in 1914 in the same Teatro de la Zarzuela, before the refusal of the Royal Theater”, explains the professor.

Beyond the objective value of 'La Celestina', with this act an authentic cultural crime is repaired”, says the scholar, who supports his argument in the weight that the work had at the beginning of the 20th century. And at this point, it is also fair to highlight the laborious modern edition of the 750 original manuscript pages, performed by the young musicologist David Ferreira, without which this adventure would not have been in any way possible.

Felipe Pedrell (1841-1922) is one of the key figures in our musical history. Composer, historian, musicologist, critic and folklorist, Casares reveals that "it was one of the greatest ideologues of our musical history”.

Now, after 120 years condemned to an unjust and unjustifiable silence, we have the opportunity to enjoy 'La Celestina' for the first time. We therefore represent all those generations that have been deprived of it. A gift and a responsibility. We are certainly in luck; also and especially Master Pedrell.