MARTIN Y SOLER: La Madrilena

Martin y Soler was a Valencian who as a
child heard the exciting news that this magnificent city once more had a theatre
thanks to the king. Some years before his birth the archbishop had pulled the
theatre down, believing that the immorality of some plays was responsible for
earthquakes sent by god as punishment. As a young man the future composer
experienced the visit to the theatre by such luminaries as Piccinni, Gallupi an
Boccherini. Martin y Soler started composing operas at an early age. Up to now
nothing has been found of his first opera ‘I due avari’, but the score of his first
three-act opera ‘Il tuttore burlato’ still can be found in the Bibliotheca Historica of
Madrid. The composer was only twenty at the time of its première in the capital.
The libretto as was usual is in Italian and so were the singers. Three years later an
impresario reworked the score, had the Italian text changed into Spanish and
replaced the recitatives by spoken dialogue. The new title became ‘La Madrilena’
and the opera was transformed into a zarzuela. (Vice versa was possible too:
Emilio Arrieta’s most successful zarzuela ‘Marina’ was changed into an opera).
Lovers of the genre should pay a little attention however and look at the dates.
There is nothing in the music resembling the romantic scores of Chapi, Chueca,
Barbieri, Valverde and other masters of the well known romantic zarzuelas of the
19th century.

This is still a rococo score and as can be expected the music by such an
inexperienced maestro is pleasing though not very original. One is somewhat
reminded of the not very scintillating works of very young Mozart like ‘La finta
semplice’ or ‘Mitridate’; one aria following another one with a few ensembles
thrown in for good measure. The singers of this recording too are probably adapt
in singing young Mozart as the modern custom requires white, small and even
sexless voices. Olga Pitarch is a charming though impersonal Violante. Antoni
Aragon employs the same small sound. Tenor (?) Ricardo Sanjuan is almost
voiceless and would never be acceptable in roles like Ruiz or Gastone. Only
baritone Miquel Ramon in the important role of Pipo shows natural vocal talent.
Carlos Magraner and the ‘Capella de ministrers’ are the best of the lot thanks to
his lively though not hurrying conducting that avoids boredom in this immature

Jan Neckers

image_description=Vicente Martin y Soler: La Madrilena
product_title=Vicente Martin y Soler: La Madrilena
product_by=Olga Pitarch (Violante), Miquel Ramon (Pipo), Antoni Aragon (Caballero), Patricia Lorens (Menica), Santiago Santana (Fabricio),Ricardo Sanjuan (Anselmo), Capella de ministrers conducted by Carles Magraner
product_id=Dahiz Productions CDM 0410 [CD]