Barbieri's Wigs and Glory
The Search for a National Identity
Wigs and Glory (Gloria y peluca), zarzuela (Spanish opera) by composer Francisco Asenjo Barbieri and librettist José del Valle, was premiered in Madrid on March 9th, 1850. The piece is of significant importance in the development of a Spanish operatic identity at a time when Spanish lyric repertoire was heavily influenced by the Italian aesthetics and ideals from romanticism.
Through the use of parody, the music and text of Wigs and Glory delightfully illustrate the dynamics of a changing society that promoted the surge of a new generation of Spanish composers trying to find their own voice. To put this observation in context, one has to remember that the first Spanish opera allowed in Queen Isabella II’s Teatro Real was Emilio Arrieta’s Ildegonda (1845), and this was composed in Italian with a libretto by Temistocle Solera (manager of the Teatro Real and librettist for many of Verdi’s early operas).
Wigs and Glory became an immediate success in its time, and its format and style paved the way for what was to become the zarzuela de género chico (one act zarzuelas, typical of the late 19th century). We are very happy to bring to life this little jewel of the Spanish lyric repertoire together with Gimenez & Nieto’s zarzuela El Barbero de Sevilla (The Barber of Seville), not to be confused with Rossini or Paisiello’s operas. We will discuss our Barber in our next newsletter. In the meantime, please support us by coming to our show or by contributing with a tax-deductible donation. We look forward to seeing you on Friday, October 27th.