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• 181 • Appendix Core Zarzuelas Any scholar studying zarzuelas is first going to have to confront the sheer number of works performed and published during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The teatro por horas system generated a vast number of works that were written and performed on Madrid stages. To give just one example of the quantity of works created for performance, the printed catalogue of the libretti of musical theater works in the Biblioteca Nacional de España, most of which date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, runs to three volumes.1 Most of these works were ephemeral, at best. Some would have only run for one night, most others for only a short period of time. The teatro por horas system, to an even greater extent than theater in general, encouraged a rapid turnover in works. Since each theater performed three to four works per night rather than just one, more works failed and had to be replaced. This activity only accounts for published works, and it is impossible to gauge how many failed plays might never have been published. Still, the number of published libretti is most likely a relatively accurate reflection of the number of works staged, as the preperformance publication of libretti was common in the nineteenth century, to help theater audiences understand the words being sung. Given the vast number of zarzuelas that were performed during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, how is a scholar supposed to winnow down the works being studied and discussed to a manageable number? The argument that I have made in this book relies upon the popularity of the works under discussion as a measure of their nationalist value: certain zarzuelas were popular because they embodied ideas and characteristics that resonated with Spanish theatrical audiences. But popularity is not an easy or straightforward thing to measure. Does popularity mean the amount of money grossed by a production? Does it mean the numbers of tickets sold for a work? Does it • 182 • Appendix: Core Zarzuelas mean an outstanding critical reception in the press? Does it mean the length of the original run of a work? The number of times it has been revived? The number of productions of a work outside of Madrid after its premiere? The impact of a work on other works and other forms of cultural production? For a musical work in the twentieth century, could it mean the number of songs from a work that were recorded—or the number of times the complete work itself was recorded? Or, what is most likely, some messy combination of all of the above? Reception history is fraught with complications. To make the situation even more complicated, some of this information is no longer available to scholars, and the missing data are usually the quantitative data. Ticket sales and financial records have vanished—even assuming that they were carefully tabulated in the first place. Records of the number of performances can be reconstructed by going through the daily theatrical listings of major newspapers, but this is an arduous and exceedingly timeconsuming task. While some of this work has already been done for Madrid in the early twentieth century, coverage for other time periods and cities remains spotty and incomplete.2 There has been no comprehensive catalogue of recordings of zarzuela music. In any event, before the advent of the longplaying record, most recordings focused on the hit tunes from each show— and popular records could still come out of flop shows. The qualitative data still survive. There are the critical notices in the newspapers. There are references to zarzuelas in other zarzuelas, in literature and in art, and in serious scholarship. (One of my more serendipitous moments of research was picking up a reproduction of a 1905 dictionary of slang at a Madrid book fair only to discover that the photograph chosen for the cover of a typical Madrid chulo and chula pair was in fact a photograph of the original production of La verbena de la paloma.)3 But unless one plans on proceeding at random, how does one whittle down the immense number of theatrical works premiered between the 1880s and the 1930s? As this study has been concerned with national identity, I wanted to fix upon those works that have achieved canonical status—zarzuelas that have become a firm part of Spanish culture—since those works would say most about Spanish national identity. To this end, the selection of the core of the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780807161043
MARC Record
OCLC
960977412
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-26
Open Access
No
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