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The Tonadilla in Performance

The Tonadilla in Performance: Lyric Comedy in Enlightenment Spain

Elisabeth Le Guin
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    The Tonadilla in Performance
    Book Description:

    The tonadilla, a type of satiric musical skit popular on the public stages of Madrid during the late Enlightenment, has played a significant role in the history of music in Spain. This book, the first major study of the tonadilla in English, examines the musical, theatrical, and social worlds that the tonadilla brought together and traces the lasting influence this genre has had on the historiography of Spanish music. The tonadillas' careful constructions of musical populism provide a window onto the tensions among Enlightenment modernity, folkloric nationalism, and the politics of representation; their diverse, engaging, and cosmopolitan music is an invitation to reexamine tired old ideas of musical "Spanishness." Perhaps most radically of all, their satirical stance urges us to embrace the labile, paratextual nature of comic performance as central to the construction of history.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95690-2
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  6. Introduction: Indispensable Ornaments
    (pp. 1-19)

    Fashionable, knowledgeable visitors to Madrid in the 1760s, men like Beaumarchais or Casanova, made sure to attend one of the city’s two public theaters. There one could savor the inimitable mixture of genres, styles, media, and, above all, people that appeared on the stage of the Spanish metropolis. One might hear as the main off ering, depending upon the night and the company, a hundred-year-old Baroque capa y espada tragedy by Calderón, a recent Piccinni comic opera translated into Spanish with music adapted to Spanish taste, a religious pageant play with bizarre comic passages (auto sacramental), a zarzuela adaptation of...

  7. 1 An Evening at the Theater: An Imaginary Re/creation
    (pp. 20-43)

    I’ve suffered through the entire day until now waiting for a moment in which write you. Baltasar keeps me very busy; he’s like a whirlwind, and there’s little but to follow his example. Already I’m half cured of the indolent habits of an writer and literary man—and of course I know that’s why Papa sent me to Madrid, and not to amuse our pretty sister, who is perfectly fine without my attentions . . .

    You’ll be impressed, listen: we begin the day with chocolate at seven in morning, we walk from the Corredera de San Pablo to the...

  8. 2 Players
    (pp. 44-91)

    One of the most attractive aspects of tonadillas as an object of study for anyone interested in the lives and actions of the “unimportant people” of Enlightenment Spain is the way the works themselves share and support this interest. The social reportaje of the tonadillas and sainetes has been much celebrated. As I have sketched in the introduction, in its early phases (up through the time of Subirá) this celebration tended toward an uncritical folklorism, and as such was much entangled with the nationalistic bent of Spanish musical historiography. I hope to model a different engagement with the social “portraits”...

  9. 3 Rhythms
    (pp. 92-134)

    In 1913 the Catalan musicologist Rafaël Mitjana undertook the charge of writing the entry on Spanish music for the Encyclopédie de la musique et dictionnaire du Conservatoire. The result was almost a book in itself by virtue of its length. That it appeared in French, embedded in a French encyclopedia, makes it merely one more instance of the long-standing tendency for important insights into Spanish culture and society to be produced from outside the Iberian Peninsula. In this case, at least, they were produced by an Iberian.

    Mitjana’s introductory remarks are of special interest. Here is how he characterizes Spanish...

  10. Intermedio: On the Stage of the Metropolis
    (pp. 135-156)

    The present-day Royal Palace of Madrid was constructed between 1738 and 1755 on the same site as the old Alcázar, which had been destroyed by fire in 1734. The imposing building of white stone, large, beautiful, rectilinear, and severe, perches on the high bank of the river Manzanares, at the extreme western edge of the old city center. Due to its situation, there is nothing that interrupts its command of the western horizon. Although the Cathedral of the Almudena, a heavy and arrogant nineteenth-century confection planted directly across a patio from the palace, attempts to drag attention to the south,...

  11. 4 Bandits
    (pp. 157-204)

    The metropolis constituted and renewed itself through theatrical performance, presenting, on the larger stage of the theatrum mundi, the curious spectacle of a center affirming its centrality in exact proportion to its dependence on its margins.

    Madrid’s centrality was made, not grown: unlike most large cities, it did not evolve gradually from propitious surroundings. Under normal circumstances, it would never have become a city at all, much less a court and metropolis, for it is situated in the midst of exposed, infertile plains that bake in summer and can be achingly cold in winter.¹ Its river is so puny it...

  12. 5 Late Tonadillas
    (pp. 205-240)

    In the chapter of La tonadilla escénica that bears the suggestive title “Hypertrophy and Decrepitude of the Tonadilla (1791–1810),” José Subirá characterizes the works from this last period of the “life” of the genre: “Fulsomeness, swollenness, artificiality, adoption of foreign styles and exotic influences that do not contribute to broadening the national style but, on the contrary, to destroying and dissipating it completely; that, rather than embellishing, make it ugly; that, far from evoking emotion, cause disgust.”¹

    It is not possible to mistake Subirá’s sentiments here, but it is possible to misuse them. Whether we accept these strong words...

  13. Fin de Fiesta: Las Músicas
    (pp. 241-250)

    Las músicas is the title of a tonadilla a solo by Laserna.¹ It does not bear a date, but in his catalog Subirá has postulated the year 1779. If he is right, the most probable singer for the tonadilla would have been either la Polonia (graciosa for Rivera’s company in the theatrical year 1778–79) or Mariana Raboso (who took the graciosa parts de cantado in Juan Ponce’s company in the theatrical year 1779–80, while la Polonia took the speaking roles). Let us say hypothetically that la Raboso premiered the piece so that we may introduce yet another popular...

  14. APPENDIX. Longer Music Examples
    (pp. 251-298)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 299-348)
    (pp. 349-372)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 373-383)