La Zarzuela, Our Lyrical Heritage
Conference of María Fernández Shaw with the Association Hispania Nostra.
Last June, Dr. María Fernández Shaw, professor of Art History and Culture and Civilization of Spain at CIS Endicott University, gave an interesting conference on the genuinely Spanish musical theater genre: La Zarzuela. The Guillermo Fernández Shaw Association, of which María Fernández Shaw is President,
works for the preservation of the work legacy of his ancestors Carlos, Guillermo and Rafael Fernández Shaw. For this it collaborates with entities such as the SGAE or the Teatro de la Zarzuela supporting singers and developing databases with publications and research work.
The origin of the Zarzuela dates back to the 17th century when main themes were mostly mythological. Later it evolved towards more traditional themes, and it is in the middle 19th century when it stands out. At the end of that same century the “Género chico” appeared. It was not even interrupted during the civil war in which they continued to release plays despite the difficulties.
One of the most interesting points of the conference was related to the work in defense of the librettist. In La Zarzuela there is a co-authorship between musicians and librettists, who jointly register the plays.
The features that stand out in the most successful zarzuelas are: Literary quality, good composition of scenic structures, and the imagination and lyrical density of the verses. The zarzuela, despite being a genre many times reviled, has a three hundred years history, and is an indisputable part of our artistic legacy. For this reason, the candidacy for international recognition as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The whole presentation was enlivened with recordings of romances included in plays as known and unforgettable as La Revoltosa, La Canción del Olvido and Luisa Fernanda.
Thank you very much Maria for letting us enjoy such an enriching conference.