Luisa Fernanda at the Upper Arlington Library

Luisa Fernanda at the Upper Arlington Library, Sunday August 7 at 2 p.m.(Photo: Opus Arte)
Luisa Fernanda at the Upper Arlington Library, Sunday August 7 at 2 p.m.(Photo: Opus Arte)

This Sunday at 2 pm I’m hosting the last of the Opera on Film Series at the Upper Arlington Library. I’m delighted we’ve had such good crowds! Come and enjoy a zarzuela-the Spanish light opera, called Luisa Fernanda by Federico Moreno Torroba (1891-1982).

The zarzuela doesn’t travel well outside the Spanish speaking word. These light-not necessarily comic-operas were intended for working class theaters, and played to people who would have easily recognized the characters and situations. If the Spanish music of rhythm, dance, fire and castanets is your thing, you won’t be disappointed.

Luisa Fernanda premiered in 1932 and is one of the last of the zarzuela classics. The form had flourished for two hundred years. Zarzuela companies  went all over Spain, Mexico and South America with these hits-and there was a time where anywhere Spanish was spoken there was a performance of Luisa nearby.

We’ll see a production staged by Emilio Sagi, filmed at the Teatro Real, Madrid in 2006. Placido Domingo stars, with Nancy Herrera and Jose Bros. Domnigo’s parents were the leading zarzuela artists of the 1940s. “My mother must have sung Luisa Fernanda one hundred times. My sister and I knew this score before we learned the paternoster.”

One of the hits of this score is the famnus Mazurka de las sombrillas, The Dance of the Parasol

We are in Spain in 1868. The reign of Queen Isabella II is threatened by a strong republic movement. Luisa Fernanda loves the young Javier a monarchist, but she is encouraged to marry the older, wealthier republican, Vidal. The Queen is overthrown. Luisa agrees to marry Vidal but in the end, he places her hand in that of her beloved Javier.

Emilio Sagi’s staging has been criticized for its austere look. I love it. The design and staging let the music and the artists do their job. There’s no doubt we are in Spain, and there’s not a note of passion or romance to be missed in Luisa Fernanda.

Join me this Sunday at 2 pm at the Upper Arlington Library. Mucho gusto.

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