Bravo!: Preview of Latin American Arts Festival this weekend

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    An authentic Spanish zarzuela which combines sophisticated musical ensembles and comedic characters will be performed this weekend by the TCU School of Music and its opera program.

    Zarzuelas differ from traditional operas because most of the dialogue is spoken and the musical numbers don’t necessarily advance the story, said Richard Estes, director of TCU’s opera program.

    “Zarzuela is to Spain what Broadway is to the U.S.,” Estes said.

    “Opera doesn’t have a be a stuffy, boring production. The zarzuela incorporates a more popular style of music that is ethnically driven,” said TJ Hoffman, a junior music education major.

    “Agua, Azucarillos y Aguardiente” will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Ed Landreth Auditorium and at 3 p.m. Sunday. The event serves as a preview performance for the Latin American Arts Festival in April.

    The zarzuela is filled with comedic dialogue and upbeat music that will be amusing from beginning to end, Estes said.

    “Agua, Azucarillos y Aguardiente” is set in Madrid’s Recoletos Gardens in 1897. It depicts the struggles faced by the common people during an economic depression. The message of the zarzuela is how to enjoy life when life is hard, Estes said.

    The second half of the program will feature Colombian soprano Martha Gutierrez performing excerpts from other zarzuelas.

    Ryan McFarland, a freshman vocal performance major, said it’s an honor to have someone with so much experience with zarzuelas be a part of the production.

    Chelsea Coyne, a freshman vocal performance major, said people have misconceptions about the opera but the zarzuela provides a good example of how opera can be fun and lighthearted.

    The production will feature a cast of 24 singers in full costume and will be accompanied by the TCU Symphony Orchestra. Dialogue will be in English and the lyrics will be sung in Spanish with English translations projected above the stage.