music  Amadeo Vives

lyrics  Guillermo Perrín

& Miguel de Palacios

musical direction  John Edward Niles

stage direction  Mario Marcel

The magic and color of Spanish music wrapped around one of the best zarzuelas of all time. Amadeo Vives is considered to be the greatest composer in the genre. The romantic bohemianism of the mid-1800s in a serenade to love and friendship. Unforgettable! Don’t miss it!

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Bohemians (Bohemios)

Even though Spain was politically unstable in 1904, composer Amadeo Vives found peace from living with freedom in his heart. He looked to the past to celebrate the carefree life of the mid-1800s by composing the music for Bohemians (Bohemios). Passionate lyrics, by Guillermo Perrin and Miguel de Palacios supported his vision of a love-filled world: The power of love “….makes the flowers in my shawl bloom,” sings the gypsy girl in Act II. Teatro de la Luna is known for leading its Spanish-speaking audiences to Latino avant garde plays. The Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia is recognized for introducing operas rarely heard. Together the two companies seem perfect partners for producing this zarzuela, a neglected orphan of Spanish musical theater that refuses to die. Beautifully sung by a splendid band of local opera singers under the artistic direction of music director John Edward Niles and staged by Mario Marcel, the ultra-romantic Bohemians soars.

But first - what exactly is a zarzuela? Literally translated, it’s a thorny bramble bush that once upon a time, surrounded the 17th century palace where this light-hearted entertainment originated and evolved into street theater with balconies around courtyards. The characters are common people, dashing gallants, shop girls, and coquettes who flirt their way through life. To cater to the diversity of regional Spain, the zarzuela composer ended up pleasing everyone by combining a potpourri of catchy folk music in a comic drama, that alternated singing, spoken dialogue and dancing. A zarzuela now stands apart as Spain’s home-grown musical comedy or operetta, that’s performed throughout Latin America. Revived in this century and brought center stage by opera stars Placido Domingo and Victoria los Angeles, zarzuelas have gained stature next to Italian operas. (The Friday post-show discussion with guest speaker Carla Hubner helps.) Here’s the way the story goes: A struggling composer, Roberto, and his sidekick poet-librettist, Victor, work in a cold garret, preparing for the debut of their opera “Luzbel (Lucifer).” As Roberto composes at his harpsichord, Cossette, the girl next door who happens to be an opera singer, annoys him by memorizing and singing his music from her open window. Ultimately the artists are united by romantic love and the love of glory in performance. Its happy ending parodies the tragic one in Puccini’s Italian opera La Boheme, which premiered in Paris (1896) a few years before.

In staging Bohemians in the almost too big Gunston Arts Center Theatre One, musical director John Edwards Niles has borrowed arias from other zarzuelas for enrichment and added a children’s ensemble to enlarge crowd scenes, both established traditions in zarzuela troupes. With panache, Niles leads a nine-piece orchestra and a cast of nine operatic voices. Three things stand out: The opera-quality voices, the way the cast takes delight in performing the arias, and the musicianship of the instrumentalists.

Tenor Alvaro Rodriguez, as the composer Roberto, endowed with a vibrant voice, shows great promise. (He’s already sung Rodolfo in La Boheme.) Equally promising is another young tenor, Pablo Henrich, who shines as the poet, Victor, left outside in the cold in the tricky, everyman-for-himself music world. Henrich has performed leading roles in zarzuelas and operas with the National Theatre in Bolivia.  Soprano Lisa Archibeque as the aspiring opera star, Cossette, has the voice of an angel. She sings with a lush, heart-warming voice that conforms to the Italian bel canto style (silky-smooth, beautiful singing.)      In Act II, soprano Rayanne Gonzales as Pelagia, Cossette’s caretaker, takes the spotlight in front of the red curtain as the gypsy girl to deliver one of the added bravura pieces: “I come from Spain; I am a Spaniard.” It’s a playful aria, filled with self-mockery. Concealing coy glances behind her fan, Gonzales sings with a naughty spirit: “I’m dying because of a pair of dark eyes./Eyes have stripped me to the soul—the eyes of my gypsy boy.” Brava to this singer who already has won a Zarzuela Semi-Finalist award in Placido Domingo’s OPERALIA World Opera Contest.

Another notable mention must go to the mood-enhancing, small-scale instrumental ensemble—consisting of two violins, a viola, cello, bass, two woodwinds, a piano and a French horn. So much atmosphere from so few—sometimes mocking, sometimes throbbing, sometimes echoing La Boheme. Fluttery pizzicato from the strings and a playful mood from the clarinet and horn in the famous Intermezzo seem to recap the entire play.

The staging of Bohemians (Bohemios) at the Gunston Arts Center in Arlington is a first for the area and hopefully not the last collaboration for a zarzuela. (Running time: approximately one hour and a half.) Bohemians (Bohemios), a Spanish zarzuela (Spanish operetta) by Amadeo Vives, performed in Spanish with English supertitles projected.

Rich Massabny


“Arlington Weekly News TV” CHANNEL 69
Broadcast (2006): Thurs., June 1, 6:00 p.m.; Sat., June 3,

10:30 a.m.; Mon., June 5, 8:30 p.m.

richmassabny@aol.com - www.richmassabny.com


“Bohemios” (Bohemians)

In a co-production, Teatro de la Luna and the Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia pay a musical tribute to the romantic Zarzuela period of the 1800’s in Spain with a production called, “Bohemios.” The music is by a foremost composer of this style, Amadeo Vives, (1871-1932), born in Spain. The lyrics are by the Spanish team of Guillermo Perrín y Vico and Miguel de Palacios who both lived into the early 1920’s.  The show, playing at Gunston I, is a lighthearted, thoroughly entertaining musical of love and fun with some fine singers. Soprano Lisa Archibeque plays Cossette, the center of attention. Rayanne Gonzalez is her fiery companion, Pelagia. Both have a long list of accomplishments. Another soprano, Kathy Hankin plays Juana and adds depth to the distaff side. Adriana Gonzalez (Cecilia) rounds out the charmers. Tenors Alvaro Rodriguez (Roberto) and Pablo Heinrich (Victor) are the young love interests. Baritone Don Phillip Bicoy brings maturity to his role as a Bohemian, as does Luis Wanderlinder as the older Girard. And topping off the show is a local children’s ensemble of budding artists. Stage direction is by Teatro’s Mario Marcel and the musical conductor is John Edward Niles.  Enjoy this easy on the eyes and ears production of “Bohemios” at Gunston I through Mar. 4 on weekends.

Sun Gazette

Operatic ‘Bohemios' Marks Great Collaborative Effort

by MATT REVILLE (Staff Writer)

Collaborations can be special things. Consider the first time Mr. Chocolate met Ms. Peanut Butter - that was something special.

I wouldn't necessarily put the collaborative efforts of Teatro de la Luna and Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia at the absolute top of the list, but there's no question that the new production of “Bohemios” [“Bohemians'] is a creative leap forward for both organizations.

It is Teatro de la Luna's first musical, teaming the troupe with a very solid musical ensemble. And, on Saturday night when Teatro's Mario Marcel and Opera Theatre's John Edward Niles stood on stage to accept the accolades of the large crowd, it seemed that the gamble had paid off.

Written in 1904 by Spanish playwright Amadeo Vives and augmented by lyricists Guillermo Perrín y Vico and Miguel de Palacios, “Bohemios” is a lighter version of Puccini's “La Boheme,” a version in which “no one gets sick, no one dies and everyone lives happily ever after,” as the playbill says.

Running about two hours, the show sprints along during the first act (which itself lasts only about 40 minutes), then lags just a bit in the second. But it is in the latter portion of the show that the characters get fully developed.

Our leads are Roberto and Victor, two struggling writers trying to put together an opera in Paris, and Cossette, the daughter of their neighbor, whose beautiful voice manages to distract Roberto from his work.

Audiences also get to make the acquaintance of Pelagia, Cossette's friend; Marcelo, Cossette's father; and Girard, an impresario who seeks to take the boys under his wing.

It's a clever, cheerful show, with plenty of humor that translates well (the performance is sung in Spanish, with English surtitles projected above the stage).

As Victor, tenor Pablo Henrich has the most opportunity to shine in the show, both in the dialogue and in a number of powerful songs. He projects confidence and humor in his role as confidante.

Tenor Alvaro Rodríguez is similarly strong as Roberto, while soprano Lisa Archibeque belts out her numbers with self-assuredness as Cossette.

Among the support cast, David Bradley, Rayanne Gonzales and Luis Wanderlinder get opportunities for spotlight performances.  (Bradley also gets credit for the translation into English, for which I am thankful.)

Niles is musical director and conductor of the nine-member orchestra, which from my mostly untrained ear did a superb job.

It's been a while since I've watched a performance in the larger Gunston I theater (Teatro de la Luna usually performs at Gunston II). It was the right size, both in audience capacity and in stage area, for the show.

Marcel's direction was, as usual, deft, despite the modest slowdown in the second act (no doubt it was the breezy first act that lulled me into thinking it would wrap up more quickly than it did).

Credit Augustín Núnez with the strong sets and costumes.

The combination of audiences from Opera Theatre and Teatro provided not just a big crowd, but plenty of enthusiastic response.


Washington Post

Monday, February 26, 2007; Page C03

By Sarah Hoover

'Happy Collaboration In a Joyous 'Bohemios'

With rousing shouts of "Viva la Bohemia!" and happy endings all around, the life of the starving artist never looked rosier than in Saturday night's performance of Amadeo Vives's 1904 zarzuela "Bohemios," co-produced by Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia and Teatro de la Luna.
This was Bohemian life done up in oom-pah-pah olé, a catchy crossbreed of Viennese operetta and Spanish zarzuela. The chilly garret was populated by the same exuberant young artists and charming coquettes as in Puccini's beloved "Boheme," but in this version, dreams did come true. In the finale, aspiring artists Cossette, Rodolfo and Victor all were "discovered" like three Cinderellas at the ball, and together stepped to the footlights to sing about the power of love.
Unfortunately, some of this work's charm was dampened by inconsistent comic timing in the dialogue (and for the non-Spanish-speaking members of the audience, comprehension was hampered by surtitles often not corresponding to the Spanish text). The music needed a deft touch, but lacked rhythmic vitality and clean intonation. Despite vigorous whipping up by conductor John Edward Niles, the ensemble issued no froth.
Among the nine singers, however, there was much to admire. As Rodrigo, Alvaro Rodríguez exuded youthful charm and grace. Pablo Henrich's Victor provided a welcome note of cynicism and the evening's best comic business. Lisa Archibeque sang with lustrous tone, though her bashful characterization of Cossette was muted. Rayanne Gonzales's infectious charm blossomed in her cameo solo "De España vengo" (imported, along with several other numbers, from other zarzuelas).
Also noteworthy at Saturday's performance was its bicultural audience, a rare and heartening occurrence for concertgoers. The house was full, enthusiastic and predominantly Spanish-speaking. This was the first partnership between Niles's Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia and stage director Mario Marcel's Teatro de la Luna. Here's to such artistic and cultural interaction being nurtured.







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