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The Ensalada and the Origins of the Lyric Theater in Spain Maricarmen Gómez Felipe Pedrell, pioneer of musicological studies in Spain, was the first to call attention to an unusual musical genre known as the ensalada. This form was preserved in examples collected by Mateo Flecha (c. 1530-1604), the editor of an anthology of music entitled Las Ensaladas de Flecha, Maestro de Capilla quefue de las Serenissimas Infantas de Castilla: Recopiladas por F. Matheo Flecha su sobrino, Abad de Tyhan y Capellán de las Magestades Caesareas, con algunas suyas y de otros authores, por él mesmo corregidas y echas estampar (Prague, 1581).' This anthology was printed by Iorge Negrino, and only an incomplete copy of it is currently known. It contains eight ensaladas of Mateo Flecha "the Elder" (1481-1553), two by his nephew, Father Mateo Flecha "the Younger," two by Pere Alberch Vila (1517-82), one by Cárceres, and one by Chacón, the latter two composers both contemporaries of Vila.2 Pedrell understood the ensaladas to be short dramatic pieces, and, wrongly, he assumed that they shared some features with those found in Italian madrigal comedies of Orazio Vecchi (1550-1650). According to Pedrell, In spite of their being written and therefore sung in madrigal style, sometimes by four, sometimes by five or six voices, these poeticmusical pieces were without doubt given dramatic representation, as indicated by their dialogue. When one of the characters is asked to sing, a romance or secular tune is especially mentioned, and one must suppose that they were parodiedfaciendo escarnio [making mockery], following the jongleur tradition.3 This opinion concerning the ensalada was to be endorsed by Rafael Mitjana in his monograph on Spanish music in the Lavignac encyclopedia: "We are therefore confronted with a dramatic performance, conceived in the form of the madrigalesque opera."4 367 368Comparative Drama On the other hand, Higinio Angles disagreed with Pedrell's hypothesis in his well-known edition of six ensaladas by Flecha the Elder.5 Although he offers nothing to support his assertion that the ensaladas were not dramatic pieces, his opinion has in fact prevailed until now. In this respect the only scholar to challenge Angles' view has been Dionisio Preciado, who in a recent article has given the following definition of the ensalada: "a typically Spanish literary and musical dramatic genre of the sixteenth century." Preciado specifically asks whether Mateo Flecha's ensaladas are not after all a "theatrical genre," and he answers this question in the affirmative in accord with his own unsupported definition of the genre.6 The purpose of the present essay is to review this question in order to ascertain if there is in fact any basis for Preciado's definition of the ensalada. It is an exploration that will, in spite of an answer to this question in the negative, throw considerable light on the relationship between music and drama in sixteenth-century Spain. In the dedication of Las Ensaladas addressed to Don Juan de Borja, Flecha the Younger comments with regard to the compositions of his uncle: "ninguno antes del las compuso, ni después (con preciarse todos de tenellas) nadie las ha recopilado ni echo estampar" ("no one wrote them before he did, or after—although everyone boasts of possessing them, no one has either compiled or printed them"). This was a good reason, he indicates, to assume the task: "viendo que estas Ensaladas las procuravan muchos tener y que por andar escritas de mano no podían dexar de ser muy costosas y poco correctas" ("having observed that many people wanted to have these ensaladas, and that they were very expensive and not very reliable because they were written by hand"). Thus we learn that the ensalada was still in fashion about thirty years after the death of Flecha the Elder. However, the statement by Flecha the Younger that his uncle was the first to write ensaladas is incorrect since the first record of the ensalada (the term means "salad") is recorded in the 1510 Auto da Fe of the Portuguese Gil Vicente—that is, some twenty years before Flecha wrote any of his contributions to the genre. The Auto, played...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 367-393
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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