This article makes an initial contribution to the largely unexplored field of historical performance practice in zarzuela by examining the earliest surviving recordings of Manuel Fernández Caballero’s Gigantes y cabezudos (1898). One of the greatest successes of the género chico subgenre of zarzuela during the early years of commercial phonography in Spain, it is also the zarzuela of which the most recordings made before 1905 have survived: nineteen, made on wax cylinders by local gabinetes fonográficos and on disc by Gramophone. Both the thriving género chico culture and its singing practices, as well as the technological, commercial, and cultural aspects of the early recording industry in Spain, are discussed to consider how recordings related to live performance in this particular context, what the value is of these recordings as documents of performance practice, and what questions they open up for further study of performance practice in zarzuela.
Reconstructing Zarzuela Performance Practices ca. 1900: Wax Cylinder and Gramophone Disc Recordings of Gigantes y cabezudos
Eva Moreda Rodríguez is senior lecturer in musicology at the University of Glasgow. A specialist in the political and cultural history of music in modern Spain, she is the author of Music and Exile in Francoist Spain (Ashgate, 2015), Music Criticism and Music Critics in Early Francoist Spain (Oxford University Press, 2016), and numerous articles and book chapters. In 2018–19 she held a Leadership Fellowship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and her work has received funding from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the British Academy, and the Leverhulme Trust.
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Eva Moreda Rodríguez; Reconstructing Zarzuela Performance Practices ca. 1900: Wax Cylinder and Gramophone Disc Recordings of Gigantes y cabezudos. Journal of Musicology 7 October 2020; 37 (4): 459–487. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jm.2020.37.4.459
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