Ópera y Teatro musical

Mis dos mujeres

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Francisco Asenjo Barbieri was born in Madrid on 3 August 1823 and died in the same city on 17 February 1894. Considered a very prestigious figure during his time, he was a composer, conductor, music critic, poet, writer, philologist, musicologist, impresario, bibliophile and organologist. He was endowed with a thorough intellectual preparation, which made him one of the most influential personalities of the nineteenth century in Spain. Responsible for the reformation of Spanish musical theatre, he also re-wrote Spanish music history and was behind its nationalist ideology. Barbieri was undoubtedly one of the greatest composers in the history of Spanish music.

The composer
In the introduction to volume one of the Legado Barbieri, Emilio Casares noted: “In Spain it is difficult to encounter such an interesting and complex personality as Francisco Asenjo Barbieri during the nineteenth century, and one who enjoyed such unanimous respect and popularity, both in musical and intellectual circles. In a tribute to Barbieri written after his death, Pedrell observed: ‘Few men in Spain were as popular and admired by audiences in Madrid… He was a national treasure, one of the greatest names to have honoured us’”. (1) M. Ossorio Bernard referred to him in similar terms: “He is one of the figures that best characterises last century with all its irresolution and enthusiasm, its weak points and struggles. And just as many of the elderly will recall having seen Barbieri play the violin in an orchestra, singing in theatre choirs, wearing the conscript’s uniform, or playing the cornet in a street band, the academics of the Fine Arts and Language academies will remember him as one of their most learned companions. It will not be easy for we children of the press to cease considering him as one of us”. (2)

With an output consisting of over 70 stage works, Barbieri began his creative life around 1850 and his musical personality quickly began to emerge with his first hit, the zarzuela chica titled Gloria y peluca. However, it was Jugar con fuego that established the characteristics of the zarzuela grande and definitively changed the history of the genre. A revolutionary work, Jugar con fuego amounted to a definitive model for the new romantic or “restored” zarzuela and would raise Barbieri to the celebrity status he enjoyed until his death. Performed thousands of times, it made huge profits, and together with Los diamantes de la corona, Pan y toros and El barberillo de Lavapiés, it is considered one of Barbieri’s best works.

Barbieri composed many other works throughout his career that were not only proof of his conception of stage music, but became classics of the nineteenth-century repertory, both in Spain and Latin America. This converted him into one of the best composers of stage music and a central figure in the Spanish romantic generation. Endowed with a thorough intellectual preparation, his strong fighting spirit led him to become one of the directors of the Spanish stage during the nineteenth century.

Barbieri had a vast knowledge of the Classical and early- to mid-Romantic musical languages, from Mozart, Haydn, Auber, Meyerbeer, to Gounod, Verdi and Wagner. He was also familiar with the music of Juan del Encina, Luis Misón, Blas de Laserna, Soler, Manuel García and his teacher Ramón Carnicer. But he was also an expert in Spanish music history and the world of the salon lied, and used this background to create a radically Spanish theatrical work, one of whose best examples is precisely Mis dos mujeres.

The Work

The premiere of Mis dos mujeres took place at the Teatro del Circo in a benefit function for the lead actor Francisco Salas on 26 March 1855, with a libretto by Barbieri’s comrade-in-arms, Luis Olona. Mis dos mujeres, which followed another of very successful work by Barbieri, Los diamantes de la corona, was one of four works (Los dos ciegos, El Vizconde and El sargento Federico) the composer premiered during a very active year.

As was common practice during this period, Luis Olona borrowed the text from an early French comic opera by M. Planard titled Mina. The text was dense and therefore problematic. The audience found it difficult to follow and it was very distinct to the populist character that defined the majority of Barbieri’s works. However, Olona improved it by adding his own, original zarzuela style, which was characterised by its wit and a talent for jokes, and the inclusion of musical and dramatic situations admired during this period.

Barbieri responded to the situation by reducing the presence of Spanish elements like the seguidilla in the music, although this form was very appropriate to a work set during the reign of Charles III. Instead, he sought a musical component with a neutral or international character, although there are some references to popular and folkloric elements, such as the “Coro de la gallina ciega” (Blind Hen’s Chorus).

Mis dos mujeres came at an important time in Barbieri’s life, when he was focused on creating an internationally valid national theatre using the model of the zarzuela grande to compete with Italian and French comic opera. By this time he had already premiered seven zarzuelas chicas and 10 grandes, the latter becoming increasingly present in his output.

It is not known how long Barbieri took to compose the work –the rate at which zarzuela was produced was always very swift–. But judging from the manuscript of the vocal reduction, which is conserved at the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid and is dated “Friday, 23 March 1855, 6pm”, he seems to have completed it three days before the premiere.

María Encina Cortizo has examined this work in great depth in La restauración de la zarzuela en el Madrid del XIX (1832-1856), (3) a study that has been used as the basis for the following analysis. The work consists of three acts and 15 musical numbers, making it the longest Barbieri had composed until that point in time. Act one is especially dense. In all three extant manuscripts, the work begins with Number 1 “Blas, Blas, Blas”, however, Barbieri added an “Overturilla” when the work was restaged at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in November 1881. This overture is today conserved at the Biblioteca Nacional and is indicative of Barbieri’s interest in this work. The journal La Correspondencia Musical published the following commentary about this addition: “The symphony maestro Barbieri recently composed, which was performed as an overture on the night in question, is simple and original. It is a clear reflection of the vivacity and the artistic genius of its composer”. (4) The overture is presented in potpourri form and is based on four themes from Numbers 3, 10 (the new version of Inés’s famous aria) and the last theme from Number 6, with a final coda in G major.

Instead of presenting the main character, in this chorus we are introduced to Blas, Don Diego’s servant and friend, a kind of Figaro buffo tenor, who helps his employer with his relationship problems. This number was especially composed for the great singer Vicente Caltañazor and the chorus contains tremendous interest, with magnificent comic moments and parodies created using repetition, which Barbieri uses to capture the audience right from the beginning of the work. In the second part of the number, the chorus is converted into a barcarolle, leading to the entrance of Blas. Number 2 is a duet between the Countess and Don Diego, the two main characters. This is a poly-sectional number with four key changes, in which Barbieri combines the comic with the semi-tragic, as Don Diego has to tell his secret wife that the king has decided he must marry another woman. Barbieri succeeds in describing the emotions of the moment in music. He also resorts to Spanish elements, such as the use of neighbour notes above and below the dominant, triplet ornaments and rhythms similar to the tirana. The number concludes with a duet in 3/8 time, using resources typical of operetta. Number 3 is vital from the point of view of the plot; it pre-empts what is going to take place later in the work. This number consists of a chorus and a complex, poly-sectional concertante, in which Barbieri describes the psychological traits of each character in music: Inés, the Countess, Blas, Don Diego and Don Gaspar. Number 4 is a scene involving Don Félix, Blas, the notary, Don Diego and Don Gaspar. Here Barbieri pits the Spanish language against the Italian, a vital resource during this period, as he had already done in Galanteos en Venecia. The first section, in E minor, contains an aria sung by the soldier, Don Félix, in which he addresses his horse, accompanied by music resembling granaínas. This section is full of Andalusian elements such as triplet ornaments, minor scales, harmonic movement from the submediant to the dominant, etc. In bars 132 and 192 Barbieri imitates the language of Italian comic opera and employs diminished-seventh chords to express the young girl’s surprise. The tessitura of Don Félix’s part reaches a high Ab. Don Félix’s character is perfectly described in the next number, Number 5, a romance in which there are no tempo or metre changes and no modulations so as to reinforce the sensation he feels: his renunciation of an impossible love. Once again the Italian tradition à la Bellini stands out, with a beautiful melody introduced by the cor anglais that takes on special importance, in 6/8 timing resembling the barcarolle, ternary form, melancholic leaps of a sixth and octave and the use of the Neapolitan sixth chord. This act ends with Number 6, which is a concertante. Barbieri resorts to the style of Rossinian comic opera, with the ironic use of motives associated with instruments that come to the forefront using repeated articulations to double the voices, and changes of metric accents, which favour the comedy.

Act two begins with the “Coro de la gallina ciega”, which is prepared by a short orchestral introduction, consisting of the contrast between a ternary and a binary theme and leading to Number 8, a quartet featuring Don Diego, Doña Inés, Don Félix and the Countess. The quartet begins with a typical seguidillas, appropriate for improvising on seven- and five-verse syllable lines. This is followed by a second part beginning in bar 50, where the concertante begins. Here Barbieri leads the music to a more aristocratic setting and consequently it is more inspired by the bel canto tradition, with Don Félix and Inés as the main protagonists. According to María Encina Cortizo, this passage is more “in line with the works Verdi was writing at the time –La Traviata had been premiered the year before”. (5) This number also contains a polka rhythm, a barcarolle and a brilliant vocal tessitura. Number 9 is a tercet between Don Félix, Don Diego and Don Gaspar, “Escucha mi consejo” (Listen to my advice). Number 10 is a melancholic romance sung by Inés (which is not included in the piano reduction or in any of the manuscripts). Barbieri inserts this number just prior to the end of the act –in the same way as “Un tiempo fue” from Jugar con fuego–, in which the protagonist sings of her sadness. The act ends with a concertante in Number 11 featuring Inés, Don Félix, Blas, Don Diego, Don Gaspar and the male choir.

Act three begins with the comic scene, the “Coro de educandas” (The Schoolgirls’ Chorus), one of the work’s most famous numbers, in which, once again, Barbieri’s complete mastery of choral writing comes to the fore. This music lesson would later influence some passages of the zarzuela Música clásica by Ruperto Chapí. Barbieri made some orchestral innovations in this numbers that were very well received, such as muted trombones, a novelty in Spain. As the composer himself explained: “In this piece, as shall be seen, the trombones should be played with mute like the cornets. This mute consists of a wooden plug like that used for the trumpets during Holy Week, except that it has to be larger; proportionate to the bell of the trombone: the most original aspect and effectiveness of this piece is precisely the use of these mutes. Bear in mind that the instrument ascends a semitone and that the slide must be pulled out, or better still, one should transpose down a semitone, which is the semitone the instrument (the trombone) is raised by the mute”. (6) Effectively, the critics praised this technical innovation, the first time it was used in Spanish zarzuela. The next number is also choral, the Salve, sung by the sopranos on stage with organ accompaniment and simple music strongly based on historical roots, as was the 'Salve' from Pan y toros. Don Félix performs several contrapuntal passages, in the form of a personal plea, at the end of the choral prayer. Number 14 is the famous solfeggio lesson, sung by Don Diego, Blas, and the schoolgirls, (7) using canonic imitation. The work ends with a short final concertante.

Critics paid quite a lot of attention to Mis dos mujeres, especially in the recently founded Gaceta Musical de Madrid. One such critic noted: “Mr. Barbieri, composer of the music of the zarzuela in question, who has proven his talent in many other works of the same kind, has reached a very superior level to some of his best productions… Mr Barbieri’s work is outstanding for a multitude of orchestral details and features peculiar to this composer, whose music is generally more comical than dramatic. Considered from this point of view, in the genre he pursues, Mr. Barbieri can be said to have very few rivals or none at all. Very few of his works do not contain some traces, or even whole pieces, of that kind of individuality, which is one of the characteristics signs of his talent. The work is so replete with orchestral effects and details from this genre that, again, it would be difficult to cite them all without the score in front of me or without having heard it more times. Also going on to other matters, the readers’ attention should be drawn to the Quartet in Act two, not so much for the originality of the form, but the beauty of the melody, well distributed parts and the effectiveness of the voices and instruments”.

It was Peña y Goñi who best situated the importance of Mis dos mujeres, astutely describing the work in the context of Barbieri’s output at that time: “El Marqués de Caravaca, Los diamantes de la Corona and Mis dos mujeres are increasingly more representative of Barbieri’s objectives, his musical-artistic creed. The popular kinds of music are no longer mere sketches. They are exact reproductions of the maestro’s talent, the incarnations of his ideas”. (8)

Effectively, they were the perfect precedents to Barbieri’s second masterpiece, Pan y toros, but all three works are of prime importance and were not mere repetitions of well-trodden formulas but included innovations, as discussed above.

The work –which remained on the bill until 24 April, and was restaged many times throughout the year– was a huge success and drew full houses. This was undoubtedly prompted by the artists who played the lead roles: Amalia Ramírez as Doña Inés, Carolina di Franco as the Countess, María Bardán as Mother Angustias, Francisco Salas as Don Diego, Vicente Caltañazor as Blas, the tenor Manuel Sanz as Don Félix, and the bass Francisco Calvet as Don Gaspar. But the success of Mis dos mujeres was not limited to its premiere. It was one of Barbieri’s longest-performed works in Spain and Latin America, as shown by the three manuscript scores from the period conserved at the Archivo Lírico of the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, which were undoubtedly a result of the work’s great demand. Following its premiere it was performed in all the theatres of the Peninsula. In December 1857 it was restaged at the Teatro de la Zarzuela and from then on until, at least, 1883 it became part of the standard repertory. The work was performed in 1856, 1857, 1868, 1873, 1874, 1881 and 1883. In May 1857 it was successfully performed at the Teatro San Fernando in Lisbon, and Carlota Villó performed it at the Teatro Itrube in Mexico on 20 May, only a year after its premiere in Madrid. And the José Cortés Company staged it on 10 January 1959 in Chile after coming from Lima, where it was probably also performed.

The Libretto and its Author

Luis Olona y Gaeta, who was born in Málaga in 1823 and died in Madrid on 1863, was one of the authors responsible for the restoration of the romantic zarzuela. He was involved in all the great battles that took place from the end of the 1840s onwards to revive this old baroque genre. After moving to Madrid, he began contributing to the press and directed numerous theatres. But above all, he was a very prolific author of comedies, sainetes and many zarzuelas, which were set to music by some of the best composers of the time including Hernando, Inzenga, Oudrid, Gaztambide, Arrieta and naturally Barbieri. In 1849 he achieved extraordinary success with the first part to El duende, with music by Rafael Hernández, who accompanied him to almost all its premieres. Like Barbieri, he wrote important works that would change the course of the genre, such as El duende, El postillón de la Rioja and El valle de Andorra, as well as Buenas noches señor don Simón, Catalina, El juramento, Entre mi mujer y el negro, Los dos ciego, Los circasianos, and many others.

Barbieri maintained a very special relationship with Luis and his brother José, who was also a playwright. (9) His collaboration with Luis led to such fundamental works as Tramoya, Por seguir a una mujer, Gracias a Dios que está puesta la mesa, Galanteos de Venecia, El sargento Federico, Amar sin conocer and Entre mi mujer y el negro. Barbieri’s close friendship with Luis was especially important in the battle to save zarzuela. Both men were involved in the first associations that were set up during the early 1850s, in particular the Sociedad del Circo, which Olona directed and presided. The Teatro de la Zarzuela Society, consisting of Barbieri, Olona, Gaztambide and the bass Francisco Salas, was behind the construction of the theatre, which was originally the property of these four men. Barbieri explained the consequences of the Sociedad del Circo and Luis Olona’s leading role in its foundation: “This initiative came from Joaquín Gaztambide. After informing Salas and myself of the idea of taking over the Teatro del Circo and opening up our own branch there, he agreed to my proposal of forming a new Society, which was to consist of the three of us. He also agreed to invite the dramatist Luis Olona and the composers Hernando, Oudrid and Inzenga (junior), the only composers who had written successful zarzuelas to that point, to take par… Luis Olona was appointed President-Director”. (10)

Olona’s role in the construction of the present Teatro de la Zarzuela was even more important. The third issue of the journal La Zarzuela announced the projected construction of the theatre in the following terms: “On 11 February 1856 in the premises of the management of the Teatro del Circo de Madrid, Luis Olona, junior, Francisco Salas, Joaquín Gastambide, Francisco Asenjo Barbieri and Francisco de Rivas, signed the contract in which the latter pledged to construct a theatre on lot numbers 2 and 4, Jovellanos Street”. (11) As Barbieri writes, the theatre was constructed “after discussing the foundations and the details and distribution the theatre would have to have”, (12) between Salas, Olona, Gaztambide and Barbieri himself, indicating the degree to which Olona was important. It was precisely Olona who, years later, comprehended Barbieri’s decision to resign from the management of the theatre that was to a large extent his: “My only interest in this matter is you. So don’t worry about me and just about what’s best for you… I will always be your friend and companion. I will make you proud of our friendship. From here I can see the bad times you went through for me and I thank you a thousand times over for your efforts, but I repeat, if you have to beg for my work to be performed, I would much prefer to set fire to it”. (13) The events that took place in Paris surrounding the premiere of the work Entre mi mujer y el negro, and the first performance of the zarzuela in the city of Barcelona, established a special bound between them.

This fellowship, and their mutual respect and admiration was at the heart of their new collaboration, as Olona expressed in a hand-written dedication of one of the librettos conserved at the Biblioteca Nacional: “To you, illustrious maestro, whom I applaud. I admire you. I revere you… I can think of nothing else but to proclaim how much the success of my libretto is due to your music. May God grant us many more of these and until next time, your friend, Luis. Ah! I almost forgot. Congratulations”. (14)

Mis dos mujeres is a work based on M. Planard’s Mina, which is full of pleasant moments that despite their implausibility, offer good dramatic situations that Barbieri took advantage of, constructing a coherent work containing tight internal unity and new incidents. Olona took the themes from Planard, but acts two and three are original, as are some of the characters. The work was also transported to a Spanish setting –La Granja– and was set at the beginning of the reign of Charles III. The libretto itself carried the following explanation: “Note. This zarzuela is based on an early French comic opera titled Mina. Acts two and three are original, as well as the character of Don Gaspar, which doesn’t exist in the French work”. (15)

Luis Olona’s versification was excellent and as Cotarelo noted: “Although the libretto is not as clear and credible as one might have hoped, it is certainly interesting and well arranged. This time Olona has left the Russians and Hungarians alone, but that has not prevented him from writing a drama full of elegance, plagued with urban humour and wit and with first-rate verses for the musical part”. (16) The press of the time viewed the work in similar terms. La Gazeta Musical de Madrid reported: “The plot of Mr. Olona’s new zarzuela is skilfully elaborated and reflects a profound knowledge of dramatic resources. Overall and in its smaller details, it is a pleasant work that satisfies and entertains the spectator… It is enough to say that the work is full of jokes and comic and dramatic contrasts. The author of the libretto has achieved what Sedaine was able to do: provoke both laughter and interest”. (17)

Mis dos mujeres is yet another French libretto that invaded Spain during this period and reflects the three worlds that influenced the zarzuela grande at the time. “On the one hand, the vaudeville-like farce of French origin, which endows new libretti with the characteristic comic mix-ups and contemporary references. On the other, the literary world of Eugene Scribe, who became known in Spain in translations, adaptations and new versions of French works, of which there are examples from Jugar con fuego to El valle de Andorra. And finally, the cloak-and-dagger play of the Golden Age, with its two dramatic levels, the serious and comic worlds, contemplated from the high comedy of Ventura de la Vega. (18)

   The action takes place in La Granja during the reign of Charles III.

Act I. The colonel Don Diego is secretly married to a young, widowed Countess, without the king’s approval. He receives the news that the king wants him to marry an orphaned cousin who is about to leave the convent that very day, accompanied by her uncle, Don Gaspar, and will take hospice in his villa in La Granja, where the Countless also lives. Don Diego had begged that the queen intercede on his behalf before the king, but the date fixed for the wedding cannot be postponed and Don Diego cannot confess that he is already married out of fear of losing royal protection. The young Guard de Corps, Don Félix, appears with a message from the queen urgently requesting the presence of Don Gaspar. He entrusts the notary with performing the wedding ceremony and leaves the villa. Don Félix is Don Diego’s friend and recognises Inés as a result of having spent a few days in her care, recuperating from injuries caused by bandits. The Countess warns that they are in love. Inés surprises everyone as she is a very innocent young girl, who is inexperienced in everything to do with love and marriage, so the Countess plans to trick her, faking a false marriage between Inés and Don Diego, thus tying up the notary. When Don Félix finds out that Inés is going to be married, he contains his feelings for her but, involuntarily, surprises the Countess and her husband, who believing they were alone, exchange tender phrases of love. Don Félix is angered by what he sees as an act of betrayal to the innocent Inés.

Act II. Don Félix has secretly arranged a date with the Countess that very night in order to convince her to end her illicit relationship with Don Diego, but in the confusion, Inés turns up at the date instead of the Countess. The darkness of the night leads Don Félix to speak to Inés believing she was the Countess. She is stunned to learn about the relationship between the Countess and Don Diego, as well as that Don Félix loves her and proposes to stay away from her. The gardener perceives the presence of a stranger and fires a warning shot. Don Félix flees so as not to put Inés in an awkward situation.

Act III. Several months have gone by. Inés and the Countess remain in a convent, while Don Diego has been banished a castle and Don Félix’s whereabouts are unknown. Today is the day Inés is going to take her vows and the Countess is planning to escape with her husband, who will enter the convent dressed as the music teacher. D. Félix arrives to notify the nuns that as the king is not very far from the convent and vows are going to be taken, he would like to attend. There he encounters Don Gaspar, who does not inform him of Inés’s presence at the convent, and Blas, Don Diego’s friend and servant, who tells him that it is Inés who is about to take her vows. Blas helps him to find Inés, while he helps Don Diego escape with the Countess, hiding them both until the right moment. The nuns discover that the Countess has escaped. Don Diego and Don Félix come out of hiding perplexed and confused, when the Countess finally appears with Don Gaspar, explaining her disappearance. She tells them that when she heard the king was approaching, she went to prostrate herself at his feet and not only received a pardon for herself and her husband, but permission for Inés to marry Don Félix, a union Don Gaspar also gives his blessing to.
Sources, Editorial Criteria and Variants

Like almost all of Barbieri’s important works, various manuscripts of Mis dos mujeres have been conserved. Three manuscript scores of Mis dos mujeres are held at the Archivo Lírico of the Sociedad General de Autores de España, TL. 142, as well as the original orchestral material used to perform the work. The autograph manuscript of the vocal reduction, an “Overturilla” Barbieri himself added in 1881, the piano reduction of this “Overturilla” and Inés’s aria, Number. 10, are all held at the Biblioteca Nacional. The following information is given on the covers of these manuscripts:

Ms. no. 1. Opus 15/Mis dos mugeres./ Zarzuela in three Acts,/ text by D. Luis de Olons,/ music by/ D. Franco. A Barbieri/ 1855/ [Signed], Ramon Bernardo. /This score pertains to the/Archive of the Teatro de la Zarzuela/.

Ms. no. 2. Mis dos mugeres / Zarzuela in three Acts/ set to music/ by/ D. Francisco A. Barbieri/ Juan Parodi [added]/ Orchestral material No. Property of D. Florencio Fiscowich, Publisher Madrid [stamped].

Ms. no. 3. Mis dos mugeres./ Zarzuela in 3 acts: music/ by/ Dn. Francisco Barbieri.

Ms. no. 4. Mis dos mugeres. BN. M. Barbieri 62/2, 159 pp. [vocal score].

Ms. no. 5. Overturilla. Mis dos mujeres. Music by Barbieri, 1881, 8 ff. Franco. A. Barbieri, BN, M. Barbieri 12.

Ms. no. 6. Overturilla. BN. M. A. Barbieri/65/3. 4 pp. [piano reduction].

Ms. no. 7. No. 10. Canción de Inés. BN. M. Barbieri/65/1.

Ms. no. 8. Orchestral material, Archive SGAE no. 2250.

In addition to these manuscripts, Casimiro Martín published a partial edition vocal edition, in which solo piano and vocal numbers with piano accompaniment were combined.

A comparison of the contents of manuscripts 1-6 :

Manuscript no. 1

no. 2

no. 3

no. 4

no. 5 y 6

Act I

OberturillaNo existeNo existeNo existeOberturilla
Nº 1. Coro y Blas, “Blas, Blas, Blas, asoma a la ventanaIdemIdemIdem
Nº 2. Dúo de la Condesa y Don Diego, “Cara, esposa" IdemIdemIdem
Nº 3. Inés, la Condesa, Blas, Don Diego, Gaspar y Coro, “Ved, aquí, la bella"IdemIdemIdem
Nº 3 bis. Inés, “Sol, ah cuanto feliz respira”Se incluye en el nº 3Se incluye en el nº 3Se incluye en el nº 3
Nº 4. Don Félix, Blas, Don Gaspar y La Condesa, “Fogoso es por mi vida”IdemIdemIdem
Nº 5. Aria de Don Félix, de Manuel Sanz, “Adiós dulces memorias”IdemIdemIdem
Nº 6. Final, Inés, Condesa, Félix, Blas, D. Diego, “Hasta mañana, marido mío” IdemIdemIdem

Act II

Nº 7. Coro de la gallina ciega, “Mucho cuidado que no nos sienta”IdemIdemIdem
Nº 8. Don Diego, Doña. Inés, Don Félix, la Condesa, “Deciros que sois bella” IdemIdemIdem
Nº 9. Don Diego, Don Félix, el Comendador, “Escucha mi consejo” IdemIdemIdem
Nº 10. Canción de Dña. Inés, “Por que se oprime el alma”AñadidoNo existeIdem
Nº 11. Final. Dña. Inés y Don Félix, “¡Ah! Vos aquí”Numerado como 10Numerado como 10Dividido en nº 11 y 12


Nº 12. Coro, “Silencio en sus  Labores”Numerado como 11Numerado como 11Numerado como 13
Nº 13. Coro, “Salve, o Purísima Virgen María”Numerado como 12Numerado como 12Numerado como 14
Nº 14. Lección de solfeo, “La, Do Mi, mi mujer no aparece”Numerado como 13Numerado como 13Numerado como 15
 Nº 15. Concertante final, “Jamás ya dos mujeres”Numerado como 14Numerado como 14Numerado como 16

Manuscript No. 1 is probably the oldest and pertained to the Teatro de la Zarzuela, as indicated on the cover. Signed by Barbieri’s copyist, Ramon Bernardo, in 1855, it consists of 15 numbers including Number 10, which was added to the second manuscript and does not exist in the third. In this manuscript Number 3 is divided into two parts, 3 and 3bis.

Manuscript No. 2 probably also dates from the 1850s, judging by the paper and the notation, and pertained to the Fiscowich Archive, which was bought by the SGAE. No. 10 is bound separately and was added at a later date. Hypothetically, this manuscript could also date from the same year and even earlier, considering that, as shall be demonstrated, Barbieri added Number 10 a few months after the premiere.

Manuscript No. 3 is undoubtedly posterior. It differs from the previous two in that it does not include Number 10 and thus its numeration is different from the others from this point onwards, giving a total of 14 numbers instead of 15 as in the other two manuscripts.

The three manuscript sources of the orchestral score are very similar. Barbieri works with the classic orchestration for the zarzuela grande, apart from the organ: piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets, two bassoons, two cornets, two French horns, two trombones, ophicleide, timpani, triangle, organ y strings.

No. 4 is an autograph manuscript for voice and piano consisting of 160 pages and 16 numbers. It is properly-speaking a short score, more than a true vocal reduction. This manuscript does not correspond to numbers 1 and 2, that is, it contains Number 10, but with different music. The last page, signed by Barbieri, contains the inscription “End of the Zarzuela. Friday 23 March 1855, 6pm”. Another peculiarity of this manuscript is that Number 11, the finale to Act two, is split into two numbers, 11 and 12, thus affecting the rest of the numeration and making a total of 16 numbers. But Number 11 also includes music that does not appear in the rest of the manuscripts, which Barbieri must have later omitted and which recalls the tenor romance in Number 5.

The problematic Number 10 raises other doubts, although these help to resolve some of the questions surrounding the work’s creation. This number, “Porqué se oprime el alma”, which is included in Mss. 1 and 2 as Number 10, also exists in another autograph primary source, held at the Biblioteca Nacional: M. Barbieri/65/1/, titled “Canción de Inés”. The score contains the following note written by the composer: “This piece pertains to the zarzuela Mis dos mujeres but it was omitted because it hindered the plot in Act Two”. (19) This is a curious reflection, given that from our point of view, instead of “hindering” the plot, it adds dramatic interest, leading to one of the work’s climaxes.

This very beautiful romance poses a problem that is difficult to resolve. Firstly, the text is not given in any of the editions of the libretto, which seems to indicate that it was not performed during the premiere and that Barbieri subsequently added it. But this is contradicted by the fact that it was included in the earliest music manuscripts conserved, at least one of which dates from the same year of the premiere, 1855, and, above all, the autograph manuscript of the vocal reduction. Here he expressly states that the work was completed on “23 March 1855 at 6pm”, three days before the premiere, which was logically used to rehearse the work. But the problem is even more complex. The music to the romance conserved in manuscripts 1 and 2, “Canción de Inés”, which is presented as Number 10 in this critical edition, is different to that conserved separately (M. Barbieri/65/1), and in the autograph mauscript of the vocal reduction, given in the Appendix.

My hypothesis is that Barbieri added this version of the romance (believed to be that proposed here) for the first performance of Mis dos mujeres at the new Teatro de la Zarzuela. According to La España Artística, this performance took place on 25 December 1857 and featured the soprano Juana López. (20) Olona refers to her in a letter to Barbieri dated 26 September 1861, in which he states: “Tell me whether the romanza you composed for López in Mis dos mujeres is still in your hands or whether I have to ask the Jovellanos management for it. I also need to know whether you can compose a petit rondo or something similar for Istúriz to sing at the end”. (21) In another letter Olona ask Barbieri for another piece for a performance of the work in Barcelona in July 1861: “Would you also mind composing a rondo or a piece de mucho gorgito (with a lot of trills) for Istúriz for the end of Mis dos mujeres?” (22) Barbieri doesn’t seem to have heeded this request, nor is this Number 10, which, in any case, is not at the end of the work. Despite all of this documentation, the mystery of Number 10 remains partially unsolved and there is still no explanation for the presence of this number in a manuscript dating from 1855 if Barbieri wrote it for Juana López in 1857. However, Olona’s letter clearly indicates that Barbieri composed a new Number 10 for this singer and the 1857 presentation.

Another problem with the manuscripts is the so-called “Overturilla”. Barbieri unhesitatingly applies the diminutive so as to make the term “overture”, which was never used in zarzuela and was completely foreign to the genre, seem less important. Its origins have already been explained above.

The last manuscript source of the work is the orchestral material held at the SGAE (archive number MMO-2250). This material contains two sets of parts dating from different periods. One is clearly older and more incomplete, while the other slightly more recent, is perhaps from the end of the nineteenth century. Among this material is also a vocal reduction of Number 10, which was undoubtedly performed independently as part of a concert and was titled “Bass and violllo. (obbligato)/Romance/Interpolated in the Zarzuela/Mis dos mugeres/”.

Apart from all these manuscript sources, a partial vocal edition of the work was also published by Casimiro Martín (C.M.475), in addition to several fantasies and arrangements of various numbers, as was often the case with many great works. (23)

The libretto, consisting of 109 pages, was originally published by the Imprenta de José Rodríguez in 1855, and subsequently by F. Martínez García, Madrid, 1864. As stated above, neither of these editions contains the text to Number 10.

Translation by Yolanda Acker


E. Casares Rodicio: Francisco Asenjo Barbieri. Biografías y Documentos sobre Música y Músicos Españoles, (Legado Barbieri), Vol. 1, Madrid, Fundación Banco Exterior, 1986, p. XXIX.

M. Ossorio Bernard: Ensayo de un catálogo de periodistas Españoles del siglo XX, por…, Madrid, Imp. de J. Palacios, 1903.

María Encina Cortizo: “La restauración de la zarzuela en el Madrid del XIX (1832-1856)”, Ph. D. Thesis, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 1993, vol. 4, pp. 949-979.

“Teatro de la Zarzuela”, La Correspondencia Musical, Año I, no. 46, 16-XI-1881, p. 5.

M. E. Cortizo, op. cit., p. 974.

This text is found in the two scores referred to as numbers 1 and 2.

At the end of manuscripts 1 and 2, Barbieri notes: “In this number it is advisable to augment the female choir with 16 or 18 girls aged between 10 and 14 who know how to use solfeggio. This has been done at the Teatro del Circo, producing the effect the composer’s intended. As this piece is a Solfeggio, it should sound like children’s voice, otherwise this effect will not be achieved. Barbieri”.

Peña y Goñi: La ópera española y la música dramática en España en el siglo XIX, Madrid, Imp. y Estreotipia de El Liberal, 1881, p. 420.

See their correspondence in E. Casares Rodicio: Francisco Asnejo Barbieri. Documentos sobre música española y epistolario, (Legado Barbieri), vol. 2, Madrid, Fundación Banco Exterior, 1988, pp. 783-812. Their correspondence includes 50 letters and Olona’s will, which is also conserved among Barbieri’s papers.

Legado Barbieri, Ms. 14. 077. Published in E. Casares Rodicio: Francisco Asenjo Barbieri. 2. Escritos, Madrid, ICCMU, 1994, p. 26.

La Zarzuela, 18-II-1856, Año I, no. 3, p. 23.

Legado Barberi, Ms. 14. 077. Published in E. Casares Rodicio: Francisco Asenjo Barbieri. 2. Escritos…, p. 53.

Francisco Asenjo Barbieri. Documentos sobre música española y epistolario…, p. 794, letter 2309.

Hand-written dedication from the libretto to Mis dos mujeres, BN T. 26.665.

Mis dos mujeres, Madrid, Imp. de F. Martínez García, 1864, p. 5.

E. Cotarelo y Mori: Historia de la zarzuela o sea el Drama lírico en España desde su origen a fines del siglo XIX, Facs. ed. E. Casares Rodicio, Madrid, ICCMU, 2000, p. 497.

R.: “Teatro del Circo. Mis dos mujeres, zarzuela en tres actos, libreto de D. L. Olona partición de D. F. A. Barbieri”, Gazeta Musical de Madrid, I, no. 9, 1-IV-1855, pp. 65-66.

“Mis dos mujeres” in E. Casares Rodicio (ed.): Diccionario de la Zarzuela. España e Hispanoamérica, vol. 2, Madrid, ICCMU, 2003.

Mis dos mujeres, Biblioteca Nacional, T 26.665.

La España Artística, 28-XII-1857, no. 9.

Francisco Asenjo Barbieri. Documentos sobre…, p. 802, letter 2322.

Ibid, letter 2320.

Mis dos mujeres, zarzuela by mtro. Barbieri; easy fantasia without octaves for piano by G. Aris, Madrid, Pablo Martín, 1877; Flores españolas, very simple fantasias on motives from the best zarzuelas for piano by G. Arias; Mis dos mujeres, “Lección de solfeo”, arranged for flute, violin or clarinet, Madrid, Casimiro Martín, 1857.

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