8 April 2009 | Aulic Exclusiva
A Brilliant Adaptation of a Classic Music Theatre Piece
Never mind the semi-literate socio-balderdash posted below, by someone who is obviously not, shall we say, musically minded. This film is merely a screen adaptation of the zarzuela La verbena de la paloma ['The Carnival of the Dove'], composed in 1893 by Tomás Bretón (1850-1923), to a libretto by Ruperto de la Vega. A zarzuela is a Spanish form of operetta, and this piece is one of the most successful and beloved examples of the genre. As the dates above indicate, this very popular piece has nothing to do with whatever "régime" was governing Spain in 1963. Indeed, this was part of a whole series of filmed classic zarzuelas produced by Spanish State television in the 1960s, all selected for their popularity and long success with the public.
The production is lavish and beautifully illustrative of traditional zarzuela stagings, filled with nostalgic charm, except for the brilliant twist ending which is equally endearing 45 years later. Of course some of the colloquial humour sounds definitely "period": this theatre piece is 115 years old, and all the more enchanting for that. It evokes a whole bygone era of life in Madrid, pokes gentle fun a several foibles of that time, and rattles with some of the most wonderful music ever composed by a Spaniard. All the tunes of this zarzuela are known and beloved over the whole Spanish-speaking world, except perhaps by the latest rapper generation.
The cast is superb in its command of the idiom and style of the piece, especially the two veterans in charge of the comic parts, Milagros Leal as battleax 'Aunt Antonia' and the immortal Miguel Ligero in one of his unforgettable rôles, the cowardly 'Don Hilarión', dirty old man extraordinaire. His solo as he primps himself up to go out with the young girl is one of the great moments in filmed musical theatre.
This is a life-enhancing version of this beloved chestnut, recommended to all who love vocal music and sung musical theatre.