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Operation: Bringing Zarzuela to the 21st century

In full process of union with the Real and after the announcement that the declaration of Intangible Heritage will be requested, musicologists and singers debate on the validity of the Spanish musical art

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Operation: Bringing Zarzuela to the 21st century

"Save Zarzuela!" The cry resonates in Spanish music scene among those who protest recent announcement of Union of Royal Theatre with which it is currently dedicated to genre in Madrid. And it hides a debate about its validity in 21st century. A recurrent debate that takes special force today Thursday, day when premiere of police and Thieves, composer Tomás Marco and writer and playwright Álvaro del Amo is scheduled. It should be first new title in more than six decades that gives a genre that survives based on repositions. But stoppages announced by workers of INAEM, organism of Ministry of Culture on which ir programming depends, indicate that public will have to wait to see this work with background of political corruption.

The Union project would involve a public foundation of one of lyrical transatlantics of reference in Europe, with a budget close to 100 million euros. The news multiplies questions among defenders of an art that languishes for lack of connection with new audiences. Won't big fish eat boy? What role will zarzuela play in terms of programming, resources, media focus or national and international expansion? Will you be relegated as a second to Dominion of opera? How to achieve survival of an art that has been waning for half a century in popular appeal?

The zarzuela has its faithful. And y occupy seats with an average of 94% in 142 representations of last year. But y go from age of sixty. According to atre in charge of hosting it in Madrid, average age of public in 2016-17 season was 63 years. By 2015, he was 69. Among stated objectives of management of current director, Daniel Bianco, is search for new audiences.

Not only for box office, but also for interpretation, through Zarza project. About 15,000 young people, between 12 and 18, have seen in last two years performances by singers who do not pass thirty. And in recent seasons has opened door of ater to directors of or profiles, such as, among ors, Paco León, Miguel del Arco, Andrés Lima, Calixto Bieito or Paco Mir, tricycle.

' Police and Thieves ': The new title we will not see

One of most natural outings that Zarzuela has to save itself is new creation. It is what y have tried with policemen and thieves, Tomás Marco and Álvaro of master, author of music and libretto. It was commissioned by Paolo Pinamonti, former director of Teatro de la Zarzuela. But you won't see light. Its debut coincides with first stoppage of a total of 18 convened this month by unions in all units of National Institute of Performing Arts and music (INAEM). Your objective: To avoid union with Royal Theatre. "We were attracted to challenge after we were proposed. We try to make a zarzuela within genre. Everyone insists on making operas, including myself, but it's different. It had to carry spoken parts and sung parts which obliges a musical structure not by continuous but by closed numbers, "says Marco. "Then I had to deal with a topical issue with a partly ironic and humorous approach. We found political corruption very appropriate. With an open conclusion but that does not bring much hope to future of young generations. " The Assembly has been devised by Carme Portaceli and directed by José Ramón Encinar. Despite bad omens, y have been working all Holy Week in rehearsals. But re is no news that if stoppages go ahead, you can see in future: "That all that is going to take strike ahead, I have no doubt. No one has said that it is going to be done again and Ministry has not provided a solution for moment. Nor do I think content of work will make m more excited, ' adds Marco.

To all this, new project wants to contribute a global diffusion: "Who can deny impact that will have retransmissions in public squares of Spain and Latin America or through Facebook, as we have done lately in Real?", says Gregorio Marañón, Chairman of board. The new statutes of foundation that will be created envisage to give premining and singularity to zarzuela in Royal decree in progress, according to Fernando Benzo, Secretary of State for culture. Aspiration is, secure, safeguard and bring this art to 21st century. In fact, Ministry announced yesterday that it has begun proceedings to declare Zarzuela representative representation of intangible Cultural Heritage as "part of political strategy to promote and protect gender."

Perhaps this announcement apacigüe mistrust of some sectors, such as those coming from General Society of Authors (Sgae), whose creation runs parallel to defense of genre. The Documentation and archiving Center (CDA) of company treasures more than 7,000 titles only in its Madrid headquarters. Maria Luz González Peña, her director, "worries that she remains as poor sister of opera." "The Teatro de la Zarzuela has, among or objectives, to recover Spanish lyrical heritage, something that does not make Real: Since its reopening it has only programmed two titles".

It is something that Emilio Casares, professor emeritus of Musicology at Complutense University of Madrid, also fears. Author of an extensive bibliography on subject, he is expert chosen by Ministry to draft pre-declaration report as an intangible Cultural heritage. "The most expensive entry does not exceed 45 euros in Zarzuela. The atre performs a public service through Dignísimos products, "he alleges, although he deplores lack of structural flexibility that his current status confers on Coliseo de la Calle Jovellanos.

With all this, truth is that it costs to put it up to date. The twentieth century was not benevolent with image of Zarzuela. Carlos Álvarez, perhaps most international Spanish baritone, explains: "The fact that gender was identified with a ignominious part of our history created a distorted breeding ground for oblivion." It speaks of time of Franco, where it came well to dress certain aestics of regime, although during dictatorship hardly were compose titles. Álvaro Torrente, a musicologist of Complutense, clarifies that 95% of m were written before Civil war. But that Zarzuela has been identified to Francoism is a fact. Also Nazism, at one time, was synonymous with Wagner. But it seems that Germans have managed to overcome that stigma. Why not Spanish?

Alvarez, who has just sung with great success Andrea Chenier at Liceu, adds: "The authors leaned towards opera form because it allowed m a oretical better development of ir musical ideas". Today it can be equated, if it is presented on an equal footing, singer believes: "Only when Dramatúrgicamente is given same treatment as opera in terms of production, with same days of rest for singers, with reviews, that no updates , of texts or with an appropriate choice of repertoire, zarzuela shines for its musical quality ". And that's what interpreters are also responsible for: "We have to address it with awareness of its originality. Including repertoire in our recitals and concerts. "

Not just in Hispanic environment. Also International. The last concert in Zarzuela by mezzo-soprano Elina Garanča, a lover of genre and dedicated to him, showed it. Karel Mark Chinon, her husband and conductor, accompanied her with same baton as she usually does in or countries: "It is not necessary to understand language to make it attractive if it is well done. As you approach with depth and depth, you arrive. The public is not a fool. Perhaps in this, on part of Spaniards, re is a certain inferiority complex. But Elina and I have seen audience get excited about him in Germany, France, Russia, Latvia. "

The same has been experienced in his career Teresa Berganza, which has a box in his name in Teatro de la Zarzuela: "I hope you do not take it away," he warns. "There are Spanish titles that are better than many donizettis. It's about defending it and doing it every day better, without fooling anyone. At this point, I'm only worried about being pulled out. But it's easy, it costs nothing to make him understand outside. "

This is also seen by musicologists like Begoña Lolo, from Autonomous University of Madrid: "The zarzuela must be rushed as a state project. It has a spectacular interest abroad. It represents sonority that is identified with Spanish music, but it also has to be made to reach many corners of our own country where it is not with tours. "

And defending as an expression, rar than Castiza, multicultural. This is what Álvaro Torrente proposes: "It is imperative to abandon essentialist discourse that identifies it with quintessence of Spanish to assume its permanent hybrid character". For this musicologist, Zarzuela is a constant crossover of styles. From Baroque to today. And this multiculturality, in addition to a special attention to promoting new creations, is essential for its survival: "It has been open to permanent influences of all kinds of aestics, both Italian and French operas, and ater, music Popular in Spain and Latin America, jazz or Broadway musicals. Zarzuela is fruit of a permanent dialogue between traditions and foreign influences. "

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