1. Operetta or Zarzuela? The terms zarzuela and operetta appear interchangeable in recent international scholarship. 2 This is partially explained by the shared characteristics between these genres, such as spoken dialogue interspersed with musical
At the end of the 19th century, Georges Bizet’s Carmen was the most performed opera with a Spanish theme in the Iberian peninsula. It had made its breakthrough into the Spanish repertoire in the late 1880s, just as debates over the state and future of Spanish opera had intensified and were tied to emerging questions of national identity. In a period when full-length Spanish works (zarzuela grande and opera) were struggling to maintain a foothold in the repertoire, Carmen received numerous operatic productions and several adaptations into the Spanish lyric genre of the zarzuela, accelerating the process of acculturation of Bizet’s opera.The main ideologues of Spanish national opera, Felipe Pedrell, Antonio Peña y Goní and Tomás Bretón all engaged critically with Bizet’s “infamous espagnolade,” and it formed the backdrop to a wave of Spanish nationalist operas, from Bretón’s La Dolores (1895) to Manuel de Falla’s La vida breve (1905). This paper will explore the multi-faceted impact of Bizet’s Carmen in shaping the discourses of Spanish national opera, and its stylistic impact upon the new repertory of Spanish operas that were created at the turn of the 20th century.
, Spanish musicology has neglected these fields in favour of those with a greater national or international impact, focusing on genres such as zarzuela or renowned composers like Manuel de Falla or Isaac Albéniz. However, they deserve to be rediscovered and