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Arias de zarzuela barroca
José Melchor de Nebra BLASCO (1702-1768)

Para obsequy a la deydad, nunca es culto la crueldad, y Iphigenia en Tracia (1747) Overture
Llegar ninguno intente
Suspéndete tirano
Pieded, Señor
Amor aumenta el valor (1728)
Triste carcel oscura
Ay! Amor! Clelia mia
Adiós, prenda de mi amor
Más fácil sera al viento
Vincente Martín y SOLER (1754-1806)

La madrileña o el tutor burlado (1778)
Inocentita y niña
Antonio Rodriguez de HITA (1724-1787)

La Briseida (1768)
Amor, solo tu encanto
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)

Clementina (1786)
Almas que amor sujetó
María Bayo (soprano)
Les Talens Lyriques
Christophe Rousset
Recorded May 2003 in the Lycée Fénelon Sainte-Marie
NAÏVE E 8885 [70.18]


With its name derived from the Palacío dela Zarzuela, the royal hunting seat near Madrid, the Zarzuela flourished in seventeenth century Spain. As a form of musical theatre however it was no more immune to contemporary currents in music-making than any other and the infiltration of Italian opera led to a fruitful cross-current of influences. The characteristic rhythms (seguidillas and fandangos) and high literary texts of Zarzuela fused with Italianate styles to produce the kind of music espoused on this exciting and excellently realised disc.

With an orchestra in characterful, pungent and colourful form and a soloist of striking range and energy – and imagination – we are set for some revealing examples of a genre often overlooked. Whilst Soler and Boccherini may be household names it’s generally for the work in other mediums – and I suspect that the real operatic Zarzuela stars here (de Nebra Blasco and de Hita) will be unknown to most. The arias from the former’s striking Iphigenia en Tracia are memorably incisive and vibrant, their Handelian qualities potent, as is the tense and fine horn writing and María Bayo’s divisions and powerful sense of declamatory theatricality. In the case of Pieded, Señor – which is particularly difficult aria to make dramatic sense of – it’s notable how well, fluently and persuasively Bayo joins the threads and makes of it a dramatic unity. And this is quite typical of her approach throughout the disc. One can hear that in Soler’s La madrileña o el tutor burlado (1778) the famous Zarzuela seguidillas make their inimitable presence felt.

De Nebra Blasco’s Ay! Amor! Clelia mia from Amor aumenta el valor (1728) has certain Bachian affinities – and some beautiful harmonies, whereas the vitality and rhythmic nuance of the Zarzuela operas can best be appreciated in the Overture to Boccherini’s Clementina. The demands that these composers made are not obviously less than those of their Italian contemporaries – de Nebra Blasco’s Más fácil sera al viento for example is extremely taxing vocally and the scrunchy harmonies of Horacio’s aria from Amor aumenta el valor are no less so.

In all of these the performers, the orchestral soloists and the production values are exceptionally high and the booklet notes thorough and full of detail. Above all, there are some rewarding discoveries to be made amongst the Zarzuela stars of the baroque.

Jonathan Woolf


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