If you've never heard the word zarzuela you probably aren't alone. But in Spain, it's a popular (typically satirical) form of opera that alternates between speaking and singing. For the first time in it's 71 year history, the Florida Grand Opera is performing a zarzuela called Luisa Fernanda to kick off it's 2011-2012 season in November.
Before you decide if you want to front the money for a ticket, you can get a sneak-peek of the show a little bit early with Cine Zarzuela, a summer-long film event series hosted by the FGO. It began last month at O Cinema in Wynwood where the screening of Madrid's Teatro Real production of the piece sold-out. Newly-renovated Miami Beach Cinematheque is slated next.
The story of Luisa Fernanda takes place during the republican-monarchist
conflicts of 1868. The heroine finds herself in a dangerous love
triange with Javier, a young army officer, and Vidal, a wealthy
landowner. The FGO is collaborating with SaludArte Foundation from
Madrid to produce the show. Actors from their company will be featured
and they'll also borrow authentic costumes and set pieces.
Lisa Merrit, Grants Manager for the FGO, is part of the team spreading
zarzuela throughout the city. She says some of their Hispanic board
members came up with the concept as a means to "provide a wonderful
service and artform to the Hispanic demographic" and "the response has
been overwhelmingly positive." Later on in the season, they will perform
more traditional productions: Puccini's La rondine, Verdi's Rigoletto
and Gounod's Roméo et Juliette.
The Miami Beach event, hosted by musician Tito Puente Jr. and NBC's
Roxanne Vargas, begins with music from a local Spanish guitarist to set
the mood. Before the screening, opera expert Justin Moss will explain
the story and give some background history. After watching scenes from
the production, there will be a reception across the hall at the Miami
Gay and Lesbian Visitors Center filled with wine and catering from Pollo
Cine Zarzuela's screening of Luisa Fernanda takes place Wednesday at 7
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p.m. at the Miami Beach Cinematheque (1130 Washington Ave., Miami Beach)
It's free but you need to RSVP at or call 305-854-7890. For more
information visit www.fgo.org.