OPERA AT THE TEATRO DE LOS CAÑOS DEL PERAL FROM 1786 TO 1799

Pedro López López (Abstract)
Doctor in Performance at the Royal Irish Academy of Music / Trinity College (Dublin)

The rediscovery of 17 and early 18 century music back in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s by performer/scholars such as Bruggen, Harnoncourt, Leonhard or Hogwood triggered a chain reaction of new recordings, articles and editions of old treatises which culminated with the long awaited milestone, the rst recording of J.S. Bach complete works, the Bach 2000. If the 1990’s saw the revival of Gluck’s and Rameau’s operas with the highly acclaimed recordings by Les Musicians du Louvre and Minkowski, the 2000’s have opened the door to composers who, although did play an important role in the development of 18 century opera, were unfairly left to oblivion. Fortunately, scholars, major publishing companies, theatres and the record industry have more and more turned their eyes to the music of composers such as Hasse, Galuppi, Gretry, Philidor, Winter, Holzbauer, Martin i Soler, Nebra, and many others. The digital era and websites such as worldcat.org, jstor.org or imslp.org in addition to the international library network have facilitated enormously both the access to previously written articles and very recently digitised manuscripts. All in all and more than ever, there is an array of information with which we cannot only study a particular subject in depth, but also compare it to related subjects and establish its relevance within a given context.

The last decades have seen diverse publications related to the structure and management of different opera theatres in Europe, among others we find: Opera, theatrical culture and society in late eighteenth-century Naples by Anthony DelDonna (Ashgate, 2012); From Garrick to Gluck: Essays on opera in the age of Enlightenment by Daniel Heartz and John A. Rice (Pendragon Press, 2004): Antonio Salieri and Viennese Opera by John A. Rice (University of Chicago Press, 1998); and Opera in Portugal in the 18 century by M.C. de Brito (Cambridge University Press, 1989). These studies, for the first time, focus their attention on particular cities and their theatres rather than studying the life and times of a composer and his output.

Unfortunately, the study of 18 century music in Spain has for a long time been neglected. Probably, in part due to the remarkable music created during the Spanish Golden Age, the 16 and 17 centuries, which has traditionally brought the attention of most scholars, and in part because the ones who ventured to choose to research the late Spanish Baroque and Classicism would very often study the vast sacred music repertoire.

Nevertheless, we do find that slowly, musicologists and historians look into the Spanish theatre. The publication of new studies and doctoral thesis, mostly in Spanish, that deal with subjects related to the 18 and early 18 century music in Spain show that finally this genre is beginning to receive the attention it deserves. We could mention among others: The tonadilla in performance by E. Le Guin (University of California, 2014), which revives one of the most successful genres in Spanish music, the forgotten Tonadilla escénica; Dimensiones y desafíos de la zarzuela [Zarzuela: Dimensions and challenges] (Lit Verlag, 2014), a series of articles about the genre explaining how misleading the word ‘zarzuela’ is, mainly because it encompasses very different kinds of music for the theatre; Los Trufaldines y el teatro de los Caños del Peral [The Trufaldines and the Theatre at Caños del Peral] by F. Doménech Rico (tesis doctoral, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 2005), which presents a new approach to the opera in early 18 century in Madrid; compilations of articles, as in Music in Spain during the 18 century, edited by M. Boyd and J.J. Carreras (Cambridge University Press, 2000); or studies on an specific composer, Manuel García: de la tonadilla escénica a la ópera española (1775- 1832) [Manuel García: From Tonadilla escénica to Spanish Opera (1775-1832)] by Romero Ferrer and Moreno Mengíbar (Universidad de Cádiz, 2006).

Other publications focus their attention on particular theatres, their architectural features and how they were run, such as El Coliseo de la Cruz: Estudio y documentos [The Cruz Coliseum: Studies and documentation] by P.B. Thomason (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer Ltd., 2005). Also important to notice are the articles published after conferences held in Salamanca, Teatro y música en España (Siglo XVIII): Actas del Simposio Internacional de Salamanca [Theatre and music in 18 century Spain: Salamanca International Symposium] (Reichenberger Edition, Kassel 1996), and those from Cardiff’s Conference (1993).

Publications and studies directly related to my research proposal, the Opera at the Teatro de los Caños del Peral from 1786 to 1799, show that those studies either dealt only with one aspect, as in M.F. Robinson’s article Financial management at the Teatro de los Caños del Peral (1786- 99), or they were published very long ago, that would be the case of Origen y establecimiento de la ópera en España hasta 1800 [Origin and development of opera in Spain until 1800] by E. Cotarello y Mori (Madrid, 1917) or Crónica de la ópera italiana en Madrid desde 1738 hasta nuestros días [Chronicle of Italian opera in Madrid from 1738 until the present time] by Carmena and Millán (Madrid, 1878).

After much consideration and research, I have determined that a new study on the Teatro de los Caños del Peral (now known as Teatro Real de Madrid) during the last two decades of the 18 century is needed, being the main objectives of my study both to bring back the international recognition that the Teatro de los Caños del Peral once held, with an understanding and comparative study in English, and to fill a gap in musicological research. Documentation, mainly manuscripts, is to be found at the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Archivo de la Biblioteca del Patrimonio Nacional and the Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid. Among the documents I would like to consider for my research we find: Reglamento, bando y avisos del Teatro de los Caños del Peral, 1787-1800; Memoria sobre la historia nanciera del TCP 1786-1810; Escrituras de obligación (Domingo Rossi, 1795-1798); hundreds of opera scores manuscripts and much documentation over the subject including critique reviews, music journals and personal letters.