La Fattucchiera is one of the most significant operas of the Hispanic romanticism. No other work, during the first third of the nineteenth century, reached such repercussion nor did it survive in the historiography maintaining at all times such high esteem. In his study on Spanish music, Rafael Mitjana regards La Fattucchiera as ‘a score worthy of esteem, which was very successful, the only demonstration coming from a talent not at all vulgar which became known in the best possible way’ 1. Vicente Cuyás, the composer, led the group of Spanish composers seduced by the Bellinistic aesthetics, whose was blessed with a large creative fantasy and a refined and delicate sensitivity. Virella Cassañes, a man who lived surrounded by Germanic tendencies, would still highlight the value of Cuyás’ opera in his study La Opera en Barcelona [The Opera in Barcelona]. At the same time, the reviews he received by Piferrer2 José Subirá3 and María Angels Anglada in his novel Viola d’amore4.
Vicente Cuyás i Borés was born in Mallorca on February 6 1816. His parents had moved to the island escaping from the mishaps during the War of Independence. They moved back to Barcelona during his childhood. From the scare information on the composer’s life it can be assumed that the family enjoyed a comfortable financial situation. Upon finishing his secondary education, following his father’s wishes, he began university studies in medicine which he abandoned soon after in order to spend all his time studying music(he hated medicine). Other sources indicate that he was attracted to fine arts, which made him take up drawing lessons at the Academia de la Llotja de Barcelona5. At seventeen, Cuyás undertook musical studies with Ramón Vilanova specifically in piano, harmony and composition, although it is probable that Cuyás might have had previous musical training to this one: Fargas Y Soler, his first biographer, writes ‘He regularly played the piano. He had musical knowledge and good taste in singing very seldom seen’; however, since his voice was not an exceptional one, he decided to dedicate himself entirely to composition with Ramón Vilanova, who considered him his favourite student6. Vilanova (1801 - 1870) was one of the most outstanding musicians in Barcelona during the first half of the nineteenth century; he travelled to Milan where he studied with Piantanida; from 1830 he held the position of chapel master of the cathedral of Barcelona, and in 1833 as the director of the opera company in the main theatre in Valencia. Upon his return to Barcelona, he taught many musicians of the high standard of María Obols, Antonio Rovira and Tintorer. The greater part of Cuyás’ compositions are operas, or rather they were conceived to be performed as lyrical concerts.
His early works clearly linked him with the Barcelonean Teatro de la Santa Cruz. The Sinfonía primera, dated 1835, was dedicated to a young female from the theatre company of Santa Cruz. According to a note by Piqué Y Cervero featured on the cover page of the work, Cuyás was given a stickpin in gratitude7. The work consists in a one-movement operatic overture of considerable length. There is a fragment of a Sinfonía segunda, incomplete, which, according to Piqué, was also performed the same night as the previous one8. On the same year, Cuyás wrote an Aria de bajo, [Aria for bass] dated November 1835 written for a drama by Antonio Ribot i Fontseré (1813 - 1871), performed that same year. This work corresponds with the work, of different title, Plegaria de los presos [prayer of the incarcerated]9. The piece Canción del Paladín [Song of the Hero], must have belonged to the same work. There are two versions for this piece, one included in the manuscript of the Plegaria, and later published in the music journal El Filarmónico by Piqué10.
According to most sources, after two years of study with Vilanova, Cuyás presented to the Barcelonean audience his first composition, a grand dramatic duet performed in the Teatro de la Santa Cruz de Barcelona, causing great admiration ‘due to his large melodic coolness and the firmness of his composition’. The work mentioned by Arteaga, must have been Duetto de Tenor y Barítono [for tenor and baritone] with choir, orchestra and band dated in 1836 according to Pedrell’s catalogue11. According to Piqué Y Cervero, brother-in-law of Cuyás, this work was written in answer to a previous work performed in the Teatro de la Santa Cruz which was falsely attributed to Cuyás. Piqué points out:
‘Cuyás wrote this piece in answer to a similar one attributed to him and secretly introduced by a singer in an opera at the Teatro de Santa Cruz. Cuyás wrote this praised duetto retaliating to those that reproach him and clearly stating his musical talent’12.
From the dates of the manuscripts it can be clearly confirmed that Cuyás was known in Barcelona before the pretended year of 1836. The composer was already a frequented visitor in the private salons of Barcelona and there is proof showing his participation in them. It is in one of these salons that two of his works were performed; Duetto sobre letra del Sonámbula13 and Coro de la Sonámbula, both representative works of the regular repertory of the time. Regarding the manuscript of Duetto, Piqué added a few details concerning Cuyás’ initiation in the arts:
‘There was a famous school in Barcelona whose director (if I remember correctly, Mr Alegret) was very fond of music and who from time to time use to organise orchestral concerts in his spacious area. In this school, frequented by discrete and distinguished dilettanti, Cuyás not only conducted but also sang baritone and wrote music. It is precisely in this place where I remember hearing him sing Duo de contratralto y bajo with his sister, Carmen, the duet of Semiramide and the ‘Dúo de las pistolas’ from Chiara de Rosenberg with the amateur comic Graset. It was for these concerts that he wrote Dúo de bajos , here present, which he sang with the distinguished amateur Mr Lluch. And when Cuyás had he the time, he would write the particellas for each voice so that the singer could study the piece before the performance.
With regard to the work itself, it is playful and original like all his even though the work lacks pleasingness’14.
In 1837, Cuyás wrote Coro [chorus] with all certainty a hymn commissioned by the Teatro de la Santa Cruz which was to be performed at a gala concert15. The piece Duetto fra un Sabino ed un Romano also, according to Piqué premiered on September 18 183?, has not been found. This work was written in a small period of time for the bass Almirall and Lluch and it was performed in the company of the tenor Puig in a charity concert. Probably on that same year, he began to write the opera in two acts named Ugo, conte di Parigi according to Pedrell’s catalogue. The opera was left unfinished due to Cuyás’ health problems who suffered from tuberculosis16. In the Biblioteca-Museu de Vilanova i la Geltrú two fragments are kept, untitled, which could belong to this opera. These fragments consist of handwritten drafts; the characters are Ugo, Bianca, Adelia, Ernesto, Ruggiero, Tolchio together with a female choir requiring a symphonic orchestra and band. The opera is divided in two acts. The first one fully completed, the second one only the interlude and finale as well as a few loose fragments.
At the age of 22 Cuyás began to compose La Fattucchiera, an opera which would secure his place in posterity. In a reduced period of three months he had written out the opera. It was finished on April 8 1838, only date still kept in the manuscript.
Due to the lack of economic resources, Cuyás himself wrote the autographed copy of the work as well as the copies needed for the orchestra. La Fattucchiera was premiered on July 23 of that same year, reaching a success never seen before in Barcelona. The enterprise of the Teatro of Santa Cruz granted Cuyás one performance where he would receive all the monetary benefits; the Barcelonean newspaper El Guardia Nacional inserted a letter which praised the decision to do so by the business man José Molins. According to the journals of the time, the amount of pressure Cuyás was under in order to finish the work on time and his father’s death (caused by his tuberculosis, the same illness that would attack his outstanding son) during the last days of rehearsals, caused a strong impact on his health17 .. After the premiere of the opera, Cuyás began writing an introduction for the opera El Sonámbulo from where a few fragments had been performed. Afterwards he continued with Ugo, conte di Parigi, reason that would explain the two surviving fragments. A severe tuberculosis caused Vicente Cuyás’ death the following year on March 7 1839. Piferrer gathered the circumstances of his grief when the last performance of La Fattucchiera had ended. The press continued his comments: the Diario de Barcelona as well as the El Guardia Nacional dedicated articles and poems to his memory. On March 9 his funerals where announced in the Diario de Barcelona. On March 12 a necrology was published on the same newspaper indicating that at the age of eighteen Cuyás had premiered in the Teatro de Santa Cruz three symphonies, a number of choruses and duet pieces as well as ‘otros opúsculos’ [other short works] written for his students. No other source makes reference to the fact that Cuyás gave lessons while still under Vilanova’s teaching. The article continues: ‘the Tasso died the day before his coronation which had to be changed for oleander on the grave18. His funeral was led by a courtship made up of sixty torches and a military music band. Tomás Lamarca presented to the Asociación de Amigos de las Bellas Artes de Barcelona [Friends of the Arts Society of Barcelona] a project for the building of a grave, however, this project was never achieved.
The Journal Museo de las Familias reproduced a portrait of Cuyás originating from an oil painting done by the painter Grasset, which he painted in the Academia de la Llotja de Barcelona in 183919. In the lithography a group of Barcelonean artists can be seen together apparently while Cuyás is playing the claviorgan. However, there is no indication at the foot of the lithography that the person playing the claviorgan was the composer of the Fattucchiera.
Cuyás died in extreme poverty. In order to alleviate his family of the critical economic situation, a subscription was published in the Diario de Barcelona On March 16, the Liceo Filodramático de Monte-Sion organised a concert in order to help the Cuyás family. The friend and composer Mariano Obiols finished writing a comic trio which he dedicated to the memory of Cuyás20. The program consisted in a symphony together with the second and third act of the opera Il Conte d’Essex, by Mercadante, the overture from the opera Zampa, the symphony from the opera Il ritorno, by Obiols, and an aria from the opera Fausta by Donizetti21. His death was considered an irreparable loss for Spanish music, comparable to that of Arteaga. Despite his premature death, common in many composers of the time, he left a romantic exalted literature which turned Cuyás in a symbol22.
The premiere of La Fattucchiera was followed by an unusual interest in the Barcelona press. The Diario de Barcelona dedicated an extensive article not common in those days:
‘Today, in benefit of the Hospital General de Santa Cruz, the melodrama in two acts, La Fattuchiera will be premiered, a work composed by the young Barcelonean D. Vicente Cuyás. Ms Marieta Fernández, a Spaniard, will have the honour to appear for the time as alta prima donna in the role of Argeo [sic]. The interest which will undeniably excite the novelty of an opera has been a powerful reason for the Administration of this charitable establishment of this Hospital to accept delightfully and with enthusiasm its benefit. The libretto was written by Romani about an interesting novel about the Viscount of Arlincourt [sic] and adapted for local circumstances by a young man of this city. The music has been written by another fellow countryman who had already shown partial signs, though not mistakenly, regarding his philarmonic understanding with a general exaltation on behalf of the intelligentsia. Hopefully the chosen piece will prove to be a happy experience and that the attendance be as large as the universal ovation attributed to the studious musician for which Barcelona is famous for!’ 23
The orchestra was conducted by Mateo Ferrer, who according to the libretto, was ‘maestro al Cembalo’. Other sources, however, indicate that it was Cuyás himself who accompanied the recitative sections, parts which were not present in the score as this was a tradition soon to disappear. The role of Ismalia was performed by Giulia Micciarelli Sbriscia, a soprano who would remain appearing in the Teatro de la Santa Cruz during the following season. The role of Oscar was performed by Bartolomeo de Gattis, Ulrico by the baritone Gaetano Antoldi, who also sang in Barcelona until the 1840 opera season. Azila (Argea) by the Spaniard María Fernández and in the role of Blondello, Giuseppe Barrau. That evening during the premiere, Cuyás was called on several occasions on stage: after Ismalia’s aria, at the end of the duet by Ulrico and Oscar, once again with the chorus that opens the second act and a fourth time after the stretta of the trio sang by Ismalia, Argea and Oscar. The atmosphere that could be felt in the theatre was delirious. The decorations were done with infinite care by Bonaventura Planella (1772-1844), member of a Barcelonean family of painters and stage designers: he led the Academia de la Llotja where he taught perspective and landscape, some of the decorations still present on the building belong to him.
Although the first performance of La Fattucchiera was premiered towards the end of the opera season, however, since the eighteenth century many works were performed for the first time during the month of July24. The success reached by an opera in those times can be measured by the reception of the reviews and by the number of performances granted. The political and social situation during 1838 in Barcelona was particularly turbulent. Cuyás’ opera was premiered during one of the most agitated moments of the first Carlista war. In early July 1838, the general of the carlista troops entered Cataluña. His name was Conde de España, a blood-thirsty and instable character who led many moments of uncertainty throughout that year. The press would pick up all the uproars around Barcelona. Despite this problems, apparently the cultural life in the city was not affected. Following the premiere of La Fattucchiera it was again put on stage on July 24 to celebrate the feast day of the Reigning Queen at the time, doña María Cristina de Borbón. This time the opera also included a Himno laudatorio between both acts. Once again the press alluded to the performance, this time making reference to the magnificent illumination in the theatre. The fee for the ticket was of three reales. On 25 July La Fattucchiera was presented once again this time preceded by a five-o’clock performance of the dramatic work Margarita de Borgoña. Following the program traditions of the time, the continuous performance of an opera in three consecutive days was only accomplished by those works that uprose a true ecstasy among the audience. The opera was performed again on July 29, August 3 and 5 -day on which the duet by Ms Micciarelli and Ms Branmbilla had to be repeated during the interval as well as the cavatina by Mr Gómez on August 8. The performances continued on August 17, 26 and September 2 when it was preceded by the dramatic work El Pilluelo de París which was repeated on September 9. The success was such that not even the premiere of the opera Lucia di Lammermoor in Barcelona on September 22 could get rid of La Fattucchiera which again was performed on September 28, together with the Bellini opera. During the following month it was performed on October 18. Fragments of the opera were also performed in vocal concerts, on October 28, November 1 and 9 and December 4. in the ‘academias de música’ [music academies]. Another time fragments such as the sinfonía, the cavatina and the duet were included in a concert were other fragments from Emma di Rosenberg, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Beatrice di Tenda, Caritea and Lucia di Lammermoor were also performed. The performances continued on November 25, 26, December 30 and in 1839 on January 11 and 15 and finally to put end to the opera season on March 7. Although La Fattucchiera was not included in the following season, the sinfonía, the chorus from the first act and the ‘coro de brujas’ [chorus of the witches] were performed in a concert that took place on December 1839 There is no documentation to explain the subsequent neglecting of the opera. The most probable explanation, other than the death of the composer could be attributed to the change of company of the Teatro de la Santa Cruz and the consecutive change in program. There were, however, two projects that attempted to revive the opera. The first one, with no success at all, was led by the literary Víctor Balaguer, who edited in El Barcino Musical (one of the first musical publications in Barcelona) the biography of Cuyás25 and in the second publication included a piano and voice reduction of the ‘coro de brujas’ from La Fattucchiera, piece that became part of the standard repertory of the choral societies of Anselm Clavé. Balaguer had hoped to present the opera at the Liceo26.
The second project took place in 1863 under the initiative of the manager of the theatre of the Liceo, Amadeo Verger, producing more solid results. The first news about this appeared in the October issue in La Gaceta Musical Barcelonesa:
‘We celebrate with great enthusiasm the revival in the teatro of the Liceo, the opera La Fattucchiera by the late composer Cuyás and we give infinite thanks to Mr Verger for his thought to bring back on stage of the Gran Teatro of the Liceo a work so much desired by the people. We have no doubt that Mr Verger’s action will be rewarded by the public of Barcelona’27.
Despite the optimistic views that showed that the opera was still present in the memory of Barcelona, the project fell through due to problems arising between the Board of the Liceo, the public and the manager28, There were rumours that the opera company led by Clemente Castagnieri was not de primo cartello as classified in the operatic language. This rumour was, of course, denied by the manager. Nonetheless, in mid November there was pressure for La Fattucchiera to begin its rehearsals Around the same time an extended article in La Gaceta Musical Barcelonesa made reference to the adversity felt by a section of the Board and the public towards Verger29. The Barceloneans referred to Verger with the nickname of the ‘empresario incorpóreo’ [invisible manager], an unjust remark since he did succeed specially in the premiere of ll Profeta 30. A group of the Barcelonean critics supported Verger, specially in relation to the revival of La Fattucchiera given the scarcity in opera premieres by Spanish composers. The lack of concern for the national arts was being criticised with sharp observations: ‘If in this city there were as much Spanishness as there is in music, then Industry and Commerce would thrive’31. Rehearsals for ll Profeta began during the third week of November for its concert in benefit of the alto Elisa Masson and consequently those for the performance of Cuyás’ opera32. Although the differences between the manager and the Board appeared as resolved, the press did not persue the news any further regarding the continuity of the project and the performance was postponed. Later it was confirmed that there were problems regarding the contract for the singers, since the Junta had early agreed to sign a contract with the company theatre of Palermo thus replacing those chosen by Verger. Going back to 1838, there is an element that must be pointed out which explains why this opera remained in the program of the Teatro de Santa Cruz. In 1837, this venue -a dependent of the Hospital de la Santa Cruz and San Pau-, was the only theatre that offered a permanent opera season in Barcelona. The founding in 1837, of the Liceo Filharmónico de Monte-Sion and the opening of its theatre marked the beginning of a competition between these two theatres in order to become the favourite of the public. This rivalry reached such extremes that it almost resulted in a public chaos, an event that was satirised by the comedian Serafí Soler (known as Pitarra) in his work Liceístas y Cruzados. This battle between the Liceo and the Teatro de la Santa Cruz began at the beginning of the 1838-39 opera season, the same time as the premiere of La Fattucchiera. After a few years, the Teatro de la Santa Cruz would become the Teatro Principal while the Liceo Filodramático would build the Gran Teatro33. Both theatre companies began to offer one premiere after the next in order to win the approval of the public. This battle gave place to a constant renovation of opera programs as well as the latest operas that had just been premiered in Italy or France. For example, in July 1838, the theatre of the Liceo was presenting Norma; on August 11, the theatre of Santa Cruz retaliated by presenting Chiara di Rosenberg by Ricci with Alberto Torri as first jester. On August 12, The Liceo Filodramático de Monte-Sion was presenting Gli Arabe nelle Gallie by Paccini. While in the Santa Cruz a week later, on August 19, they were showing Emma di Antiochia by Mercadante. On several occasions both theatres offered the same opera, on the same day. This was the case on November 11 1838 with the opera Norma. It is rather amazing that Cuyás’ opera would have held a place in the programs during this wave of foreign premiers. Only operas such as Norma, La Straniera, Emma, or in a lesser degree Lucia di Lammermoor, remained performed for a longer period as did La Fattucchiera.
The response of the critics helped even more Cuyás’ success. Thanks to this , and specially to an article written by Pau Piferrer, La Fattucchiera managed to remain in history. Piferrer’s enthusiastic article, published in the Barcelonean paper El Guardia Nacional, resulted in an appropriate recognition on the value of the work as well as making reference to the vehemence of his romantic language. Piferrer was well acquainted with Cuyás’ music34. His tone is that of someone who shared with enthusiasm his friend’s triumph:
‘With the forehead still red with enthusiasm, the hand still shaking and a heart beating as a result of a thousand emotions, I take the pen to express my friendship towards my friend, to offer my admiration and recognition before a musician friend and to give a convulsive embrace from an artist to an eminent artist’35.
Despite Piferrer’s exiting comment, so usual in him, he knew how to point out important characteristics about the work of Cuyás. He indicates that ‘Cuyás takes the music as a complement of an spiritual expression, something that poetry has never and will never be able to express’. Among the excerpts that he describes, he refers to the symphony classifying it as a piece of descriptive character ‘it incited and moved curiosity as well as the desires’. At the same time it escaped from becoming a mere copy of the Rossini overtures like in the aria of Ismalia in the first act, the duet by Ulrico and Blondello (piece in which Cuyás had broken all conventionalisms of the Rossini structures in favour of the dramatic credibility), the duet by Ulrico and Oscar at the end of the first act (compared to Bellini’s best pieces), the chorus in the first scene of the second act, the tercetto by Ismalia, Argea and Oscar, the romanza by Ulrico, the preghiera sung by Ismalia, the chorus of the witches (which would make the grotesque and fantastic Meyerbeer applaud insatiably)36, and the vigorous final’. Piferrer concluded his article by saying:
‘It was about time the young ones stepped on the arena; The first battle is triumph, the ideas ferment in a terrible way in the brains of the young, the development is deaf but it exists; let the civil war make way and encourage those ideas and in a few years Spain will have a place within the civilised lands. Be happy, Cataluña, filled with glory you will be if new Saldonis and Cuyás step in to steal the ovations from the public and ignite our enthusiasm!’
The comments were unanimous in indicating the role of the two soloists. ‘The friends of Cuyás will be most grateful to Ms Micciarelli and Ms Marieta Fernández. Who did not follow the runs and trills sung by Ms Micciarelli in the aria in the first act? Who was not moved in Lascia, deh! lascia libero/ A me per poco il pianto in scene V in the second act? who did not accompany her in her weeping in the preghiera in scene VII? We were filled with terror by the mystery and deepness with which Ms Fernández sung Il fiore io cerco/ Cui l’uragan minacia y el grito horrible de Il fiore io cerco’ 37. The role of Blondello was played by Barrau with great dignity, considering he had to substitute the original singer with only a few days’ notice. Victor Balaguer, present at the premiere, described the atmosphere in the theatre as one full of ardour, so typical of the romanticism. The critics of the time coincided in their comments: ‘La Fattucchiera was received with an enthusiasm that turned to drunkenness, that turned to delirium and eventually turned into insanity. We were young then and we include among our sweetest and most beautiful memories that night of frenetic orgy where a thousand voices shouted in chorus."38
A few years later Pedrell would agree with Piferrer’s writing as well as adding his touch of nationalistic ideas expressing that ‘the review by Piferrer is a result of his enthusiasm and of his refined taste full of prophesies. Unfortunately, he did not listen to any other kind of music other than theatrical one due to the narrow-minded world he lived in. If he would have listened to the works of Beethoven, or works of the religious polyphonic art (completely forgotten as a result of the Italianism), his writing would have been well complemented with the aesthetic principles which would have encouraged him to listen to other works of art not as conventional as the ones found in theatre gender.’39. Antonio Peña y Goñi evaluated the work along those same lines and placed Cuyás in the frigid moment of the ‘delirious Italian philarmonics’. Antonio Fargas y Soler from El Museo de las Familias knew how to judge the composer as well as the opera without having to mention an Italianism, so common of the time and quite necessary as part of the aesthetic moment that Cuyás lived in.
Cuyás came to fill a void that had been left in the Barcelonean theatre by Ramón Carnicer. The success of his opera inspired businessmen to trust in other operas also by Catalan composers, most of them proceeding from the school led by Ramón Vilanova. Two years after the premiere of La Fattucchiera the following operas made their appearance: Sermondo il Generoso by Antonio Rovira, (premiered in the Teatro de Santa Cruz on 1939. An opera that had a rather quiet success and was only repeated on two more occasions) and La Vedovella, by Eduardo Domínguez de Gironella in 1840.
The Bellini model is what really rules in La Fattucchiera. According to Arteaga, Cuyás had written this work as a way of competing with Bellini whose footsteps he followed in what relates to dynamic expression but greater imagination and therefore becoming much more varied in the creation of new forms. He possessed a very high level of aesthetic criticism which in time would have perfected’40. All of the critics of the time expressed the same comments: By keeping in his memory a rich and brilliant river of harmony so often used by so many privileged talents that have given the art of the voice and other sounds an inexplicable impulse, Cuyás drank from the fantastic and sublime Bellini an insatiable eloquence of a wilful and original composition which has been able to follow this century’s greatest ideas and volcanic passions, taking them to the lands of the fairies’41. If Rossini had been the model ten years ago, Bellini was the novelty in Spanish theatres. The premieres of his opera and its repetitions filled the programs. For example, The opera La Straniera was being presented on September 20 1838 in the Liceo Filarmónico Dramático de Barcelona after it had been previously presented with great success on May 18 1831 at the theatre of the Santa Cruz. La première of the opera took place in Milan in 1829 and by 1839 the Parisian theatres had not yet staged the work.
La Fattucchiera, opera seria, is made up of two acts following the Bellini model. The work begins with an overture, symphony (according to the terminology of the time). Its structure is multi-sectional, beginning with a few bars that impetuously lead to the first lyrical theme. The melodic profile, the thematic opposition and the contrasts in dynamics, as well as the themes exposed in spicatto on the strings, are all an obvious reminder of the Rossini overture. However, Cuyás introduced certain elements which leave behind the pattern of the composer of Pésaro: a theme of the symphony is exposed again in the opera and shows a clear preference for modulation in thirds, also the finale of the symphony is not the expected Rossinian vivace, but a gentle link with the first scene of the opera.
Following some conventionalisms, the curtain is lifted with a diligent choir accompanied by a band on stage. In the second scene, -the duet by Ulrico and Blondello-, Cuyás knew how to complement the fioriture of the singers with agility and fluentness thus breaking away from the Rossini model by eliminating the repetition of a fragment in the duet. One of the most interesting moments of the opera is in Ismalia’s cabaletta in the third scene where the soprano performs passages of fioriture alternating with a melodic line which erroneously included augmented seconds and chromatisms which the reviews interpreted as having ‘local colour’. The day of the premiere the audience broke into a frenetic ovation at the end of this excerpt. This emotional tension was maintained in an interesting way during the duet by Oscar and Ulrico, exposing the correct opposed feeling of both singers through their singing found after the pastorella from the chorus of the vassal. The dramatic force reached at the end of the final act is quite amazing .According to the conventionalisms of Italian opera at that time, the tempo di mezzo or central finale in most operas by Bellini or Donizetti was the point where the climax was reached42. Here Cuyás is able to manipulate the harmony, the weight of the instrumentation and the differences in personality found among the characters thus creating a perfect association between music and text which constitutes one of the most beautiful moments of the work.
The second act begins with a new choir, gifted with an attractive phrasing and a development section which stand out for its continuity and harmonic interest; the typical stretta arrives in an original way to a pianissimo. Cuyás achieved another moment of exceptional quality in the tercetto which was received with enormous enthusiasm in the premiere: the opposition of movements and dynamics continues into a crescendo that culminates in a well prepared stretta. The romanza by Ulrico has certain originality in the Bellinian context, with a transparent orchestration searching for realism in the expression; for Piferrer, it was one of the most interesting moments although he argued it needed more volume in order to ponder even more the fragment. The coro de brujas from the sixth scene is another representative moments of the opera. It has already been spoken about the persistence of this fragment in the choral repertory of Anselm Clavé; according to Piferrer the audience was able to ‘make the grotesque and fantastic Meyerbeer applaud insatiably’. Now this work does not possess that sense of fantasy nor does it have the frightful atmosphere that is expected of a witches’ Sabbath; it must not be forgotten that all those dismal and confusing elements, so proper of the first romantic novels, were not found in opera with same strength until the time of Meyerbeer or Verdi. After the choir comes the ‘preghiera’ sung by Ismalia accompanied by a subtle tone from the string section played with a silencer and a slight instrumentation that allowed the voice of the soloist to sing with vitality and lightness. The end of the second act presents a short and interesting ‘preghiera’ by Oscar, opposed to the tragic outcome; the finale searches for the dramatic conviction and precipitation above the over development of the work. In this final can be once again refer to Piferrer by indicating that ‘Cuyás takes the music as a complement of an spiritual expression, something that poetry has never and will never be able to express’.
The vocal characteristics required in the singers by Cuyás are proper of the bel canto, without requiring virtuosity demanded by the Rossini repertory. Cuyás usually initiates his arias exposing the phrase in a very clear way, keeping the embellishments for the repetitions and specially for the cadences. The role of Ismalia required an agile soprano as well as for the role of Oscar where a beautiful vocal line, like the one developed by Bellini for the singer Rubini, can be appreciated; the role of Argea, also written for soprano, does not need the same characteristics as those for Ismalia. From a musical point of view, the role of the choirs (on and off stage) also required important aspects.
As to the melody, Cuyás designed a wide Bellinian musical phrase, meaning using as a base the symmetric repetition of the first two bars where the most important part of the material is usually exposed, sometimes with isorhythmic. It is surprising the challenge with which he extends the harmonic pedals well resolved thanks to his light instrumentation. He shows a clear preference for modulations in thirds for his manipulation of Major-minor colours and intro tonal modulations. He frequently uses the orchestration to enrich the development of the arias, an orchestration does not obscure the voice, but rather it creates a dramatic effect; he know how to make the most of harmonic briefs and of inner pedals in order to enrich the colour of the accompaniments. It can be observed how the recitative a secco, begins to disappear as the accompanied recitative becomes the alternative specially in the ariosos.
The contemporary reviews, however, were not sensitive enough to other important aesthetic tendencies; the influence of Donizetti, specially in the dramatic plot, the lack of rigidness in the transition between recitative and aria and in the attractive game of the choirs43. On the other hand, his brilliant instrumentation has a lot to do with Mercadante’s model and specially with the first Meyerbeer who had been heard in Barcelona the previous decade. This, of course, does not imply plagiarism nor a Bellinian epigonism which could have been erroneously suggested in a comment at the time. La Fattucchiera, like all operas during this era, possesses influences proper of the language of its time. An example of this are the colours of pitch that can be found in scene VII of the first act comparable to those in the music of Weber without this minimising Cuyás’ originality44.
The Libretto and its author
La Fattucchiera is based on a libretto of melodrama by Felice Romani, with a few modifications. It was published in Barcelona under the printing of Ignacio Estivill45. Felice Romani was the favourite librettist of the composers of the first romanticism. A number of Spanish composers used his texts for their operas: Ramón Carnicer in Adele di Lusignano, Elena y Malvina, Eufemio di Messina, Il Colombo, and Ismalia, Manuel García in Abufar, Tomás Genovés in Enrique y Clotilde (in Romani’s version it is called La rosa bianca e la rosa rossa) and Bianca di Belmonte, Francisco Gómez in Irza, and finally, Mariano Obiols in Odio e Amore, as well as a number of Italian composers who premiered their works in Spain also using Romani’s librettos. Aside from La Fattucchiera Cuyás also used the lyric tragedy in his unfinished works such as Ugo conte de Parigi, and in fragments of his melodrama, Il Sonnambulo.
Felice Romani (Giusepe Felice was his complete first name) was born in Genoa on January 31 1788. He had an unfortunate childhood as a result of his father leaving his family making him responsible for the well-being of his family. Despite all adversity, he was able to continue his studies in Pisa and later in Genoa as a student of Solari. In 1806, he published his first literary composition while still a pupil at the Universidad Imperial per le Belle Lettere in Genoa signing as Giusepe Romano di Genova. Although his fame is attributed to his opera librettos, Romani’s inclinations lay in other fields of literature; in his poem Al simulacro di Torquato Tasso, published in the Gazzeta di Genova on September 3 1814, he expressed his yearnings:
“Io pur vagando con fortuna infida
Vo per l’Italia e Insubria ospizio or dammi,
Molcendo ahi lasso! il duro orecchio a’Mida
Con farse e drammi”
It is precisely in these poetic compositions where his classical education and his choice for elegant forms are clearly manifested. This justifies his identification with the classical poets during the nineteenth century; most of his non-dramatic works evoke passages by Tasso and other Italian classical poets46. The friendship he initiated in Bergamo with the German composer J.S. Mayr resulted in his libretto, La rosa bianca e la rosa rossa, premiered in 1813 in La Scala. Aside from commissions received by various composers, and his close with La Scala, Romani also worked as a literary critic in the Gazzeta ufficiale piemontese and when he moved to Turin in 1834 he became its editor. His catalogue includes 89 opera librettos, some of them with more than one version, like in the eleven operas using the libretto Francesca da Rimini, or the nine operas with the libretto Caterina di Guisa. Around 134 composers have used his librettos out of which the most frequent ones are Rossini, Donizetti and specially Bellini with whom he found the right eulogistic tendency, his idealism and his noble style, something defined as ‘classical in form but romantic in context’. Most of his arguments are based on other authors, mainly French novelists and poets; a common practice in Italian romanticism.
The most concerning issue of La Fattucchiera, is found in its prefiguration of the form music-drama imminent in the poetic mystery of Romani’s librettos. Although it is true that he wrote his librettos keeping in mind the theatre company hired by La Scala, through his rhythmic scheme and other indications in the libretto like brackets, Romani would clearly state ‘formal designs to which the music had to be adjusted47. This libretto used by Cuyás was expressly written for the melodrama Ismalia, ossia Morte ed Amore, with music by Saverio Mercadante, an opera premiered in La Scala de Milán on October 27 183248. The same libretto was used by Ramón Carnicer for the homonic opera premiered in the Teatro de la Cruz in Madrid on March 12 1838, same year as Cuyás’ version49. The text used by Carnicer was basically the same one used by Mercadante, except with the omission of one scene and the addition of two new ones50. Cuyás’ version introduced some modifications done by José Llausás51. According to Piferrer, who was not aware of the reason for these changes, indicated that in no way were these changes unworthy of Romani’s work. The following scenes were written by Llausás; scenes IV and V of the first act, scene III of the second act from the appearance of Argea, all of Argea’s text in scene VI and some verses at the end of the opera.
Josep Llausás i Mata (1817-1885) was a highly literate man as well as a professor of Philology and director of the school for secondary education in Barcelona. His first works consisted on translations of French and Italian romantic works compiled in his Cuaderno de poesías y escritos en prosa (1850), [Poetry and prose notebook] as well as some poems of romantic nature. Llausás together with Víctor Balaguer, formed part in the Sociedad Filarmónica de Barcelona, specifically in the subject of Italian Language. This society was restructured in 1851 in order to include literary works as well as purely musical ones52. He also contributed in the journal La Violeta de Oro, an important publication for the re-establishing of the Jocs Florals de Barcelona. Ismalia, the original name of Romani’s work, had been outlined after the conclusion of the melodrama giocoso written for Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore. The argument of Ismalia comes French literature as in the case of other librettos by Romani. It is based on a work by Charles Victor Pérot d’Arlincourt titled Ismailie, ou la mort et l’amour. The text of the Count of d’Arlincourt was published in Spain in 1832 under the title of El Amor y la muerte, [Love and death] as part of the collection of romantic novels by Mariano de Cabreizo y Bascuas53. From the same author came the librettos for La Straniera (1829), -opera which is quoted in La Fattuchiera as a reference work– and Il solitario, ossia Carlo di Borgogna.
The argument of La Fattuchiera is situated during the time of the Third Crusade. The knight, Oscar de Romelia, Captain of the Army of Richard The Lionheart, returns to Normandy and falls in love with Ismalia, daughter and heiress of the Castle of San Pari who was also being courted by the troubadour, Blondel. Ulrico, Ismalia’s father, agrees to the union between Oscar and Ismalia; however, Ismalia doubts of Oscar’s love for her since he has never declared his love to her. Argea, a woman magician who lived in the abandoned abbey of Gissor, informs Ismalia that Oscar had maintained an affair in Palestine with a concubine called Azila. Oscar had ended his relationship with Azila in Jerusalem -due to her illegitimacy-, and had promised to the Holy Grave not to pronounce the words ‘I love you’ until married. Azila, disowned by this, went to Gissor, hiding her identify under the name of Argea and acquiring magic powers. The end of Oscar’s relationship with Argea is not represented on stage. Ismalia, in order to dissipate her doubts, demands from Oscar that he declare her love to her before the wedding day; He accepts and after his declaration of love, Oscar dies.
In the second act, the spirit of Oscar appears before Ismalia begging her to sacrifice herself and to keep the wedding beyond the grave so that he may leave the purgatory. Argea, full of hatred as she finds out that the lovers may still be united in matrimony, weaves a new vengeance. She pretends to be sorry for what she has done and asks Oscar and Ismalia to meet her so that she may bless their union in accordance with an inspiration received from the Virgin Mary. Meanwhile, Blondel had convinced Ulrico to give Ismalia to him in matrimony; but a prophecy from Argea directed to the Count make them fear her vengeance. Oscar and Ismalia have gathered in the abbey for their wedding; a choir of women magicians helps Argea with her witchcraft and her simulation of the union. Argea is determined to end her vengeance and utters the sign of death. When everything seems finished, a deus ex macchina in the shape of a cloud, protects both lovers from being captured by Argea’s diabolic power and guides their souls to heaven. Argea, defeated, throws herself down to some rocks before the astonishing look of Ulrico, Blondello and the vassals of the castle.
The plot did not sound original even in Arlincourt’s version, since he took from Torcuato Tasso the role of the woman magician in his work Jerusalén liberada. For Tasso, the magician was able to communicate with the spirits from hell maintaining a wonderful halo almost pagan. In Arlincourt’s version, the malignant forces have a more active role and towards the end the woman magician is forgiven and does not commit suicide as in Romani’s libretto. The translator of Ismalia into Spanish indicated that ‘Christianity can give enough emphasis and marvel to the epic poem in order to free us from searching this effect in grotesque artifices of paganism’. Arlincourt, who wrote Ismalia after his success in Le Solitaire54 and L’Etrangère (operas that were also well received), had the work take place in another setting of Normandy, in the castle of San Telmo and it insinuated a pseudo historic parallel, of a clear nationalistic content. He exalted French history by introducing the French king Felipe Augusto. Romani, on the other hand, eliminated the historic issue, situated the plot in the castle of San Pari55, changed the name of the leading roles (Ismalia was Elvira of Arlincourt, Argea was Marta), and transforms the final into a real final in terms of the scenery while at the same time deleted the morbid references of the beyond-the-grave world in which Oscar wandered and in which he would succumb Ismalia.
The opera is of a fantastic nature with an ambience proper of the operas of the time. It also includes an element of history, the crusades, and a romantic moment by excellence. The libretto of La Straniera had already shown similar elements which were not at all exclusive to the Bellinian repertory. Topics such as anger as a result of a broken vow, diabolic power represented in a spell of vengeance, the soul condemned to find its redemption through the heroine, phantasmagoric weddings, witchcraft and the divine intervention that redeems and frustrates the malignant force have been present in operas such as Faust, Robert le Diable, in Don Juan and up to a certain point, in Der Freischütz, and of course in Ismalia. In 1858 Halévy wrote the opera La Magicienne, where identical circumstances as in La Juive, are reproduced in its historical context as well as in its outline56. Romani’s libretto wanted to justify the inclusion of this fantastic theme in Italian theatres at the time still divided by Metastasio’s repercussion. Romani insisted in introducing a type of performance already existing in France or Germany; the comment written to go before Cuyás’ libretto allows the priest Andrés to justify that ‘improbabilities can be forgiven in an opera, where everything takes place in a new world. Everything happens in an insinuating way and many extravaganzas can easily be perceived with a sense of truth’.
The source used for this edition has been the only manuscript of the work kept in the Biblioteca-Museu Víctor Balaguer, de Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona), under the code M-45057. This manuscript is the holographic copy of Cuyás, which was used for the representation of the opera all throughout 1838 and 1839. Piqué Y Cervero donated it to the museum together with other works58 which indicates that he kept the score after Cuyás’ death59. There is a fragment of the symphony which is kept in the Biblioteca de Cataluña, M-700/9 and consists of a notebook made up of sixteen manuscript folios of the same dimensions as M-450 and with the same graph and outline; both manuscripts have been compared. The fragment is interrupted in bar 140. According to manuscript note by Piqué y Cervero written on the same cover page of M-450, the first eight pages did not belong to Cuyás, since they dated back to the century before.
However, the manuscript from the Biblioteca de Cataluña presents an identical graphic and despite very minor differences that will be discussed later, it coincides in its context. The fragment M-700 includes the written date of April 8 1838, holographic of Cuyás. The name of the owner, Francisco A. Altimira, composer of zarzuelas, can be read under an amendment. The M-450, with no date, includes numerous corrections and a great number of abbreviated fragments with notes written in pencil and ink which were probably done during the rehearsals in 1839 and perhaps during those in 1863. I have chosen to leave the omissions which, in general, only deleted the repeated fragments.
The work was instrumented, following the original manuscript, for flute, piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets -in different tuning-, 4 French horns -also in different tones-,2 trombe, 2 trumpets, 2 bassoons, 3 trombones, 1 serpentone -which we have adjusted to a tuba-, tympani, drum, conga, first and second violins, violas, cellos and double bass. Also it includes a band which plays on stage which has been reconstructed according to the manuscript particellas of the band which were among the working material of Cuyás in the Biblioteca-Museu Balaguer. The instrumentation of the band consisted in octavino, guartino –in this version a requinto, clarinets, 4 trumpets, 2 trombones, a group of ofigli –los “ophicleides” which we have modernised into bombardinos–, trombones and drum. The number of each instrument varies in each scene where they appear. In the last scene, the particella of the band it included a group of ‘ripieno’ which we have changed to clarinets in b flat. This edition has decided to modernised the tuning of the horns and unifying the tuning of the clarinets in b flat and of the trumpets in c. The problems of pitch of the horns have been resolved by using contemporary instrumentation works as reference60. In most cases the articulations have been unified among the different parts and new ones have been included where there were no original ones. Some of the passages from the vocal parts in M-450 gave two ways of singing it. Both options have been left in this edition keeping the second option in smaller writing. The old keys used for the vocal parts have been modernised. With regards to the text, it has been amended according to the graphic of the edited libretto.
I would like to express my gratitude to all who have contributed to making this edition possible. To Roger Alier, for kindly providing me the libretto of the opera and for his enriching exchange of ideas regarding early nineteenth-century operas; to Emilio Casares, for his collaboration contributing historic information; to Montserrat Comas, from the Biblioteca-Museu Víctor Balaguer, for her diligence and kindness in the search of Cuyás’ manuscripts; to Mari-Luz González-Peña, for her cooperation in biographical matters; to Manuel Jorba for the findings regarding the libretto and romantic literature; to Rosa Maria Olivella, from the Biblioteca de Catalunya, for her courtesy in the finding of literary materials; to Ramón Sobrino, for his insatiable interest in the resolution of computer and editorial problems.
English translation by Bernardita Moreno Mujica
Fargas y Soler, Antonio. "Biografía de los músicos más distinguidos de todos los países", in La España Musical. Barcelona: 1866, vol. I. p. 438; Balaguer, Víctor. "D. Vicente Cuyás. Biografía", in El Barcino Musical. Barcelona: June 28 1846. Balaguer’s biography is, in part, a result of Fargas’ articles.
According to the biography by Balaguer, the opera outlined by Cuyás Ugo conte di Parigi did not match the voices in the Italian opera company that was performing during the 1838 opera season in the Teatro de Santa Cruz. Balaguer, Victor. Op. cit.
The notes taken by to Piqué y Cerveró have to be taken with certain doubt with regard to Cuyás’ biography. On the cover page of ms.450 Piqué indicates that Cuyás wrote La Fattucchiera in 1838 at the age of 20 which would implicate that Cuyás was born in 1818. On this same note he assures that his father died during the writing of the opera while all other sources from the Barcelonean press insist he died during the last rehearsals, this being in the month of July.
Amadeo Verger showed great interest in reviving the cultural activity of the Liceo following the fire in 1861. Although the regular performances of the Liceo consisted in operas, he also included ballets, zarzuelas, plays, concerts and other varieties. Verger managed to improve the quality of the operatic performances and worked on improving the French repertory. Vid. Alier, Roger; Mata, Francesc X. El Gran Teatro del Liceo. Barcelona: ed. Francesc X. Mata, 1991, p. 39
Bretán, Marc-Jesús. El Gran Teatre del Liceu. Barcelona, p. 150-153. In 1863, a cruel and unfortunate press campaign began against Verger, who was considered the brother of a baritone, Napoleón Verger, who led important scenes in Paris. According to some, Verger’s intentions were to transform the Liceo into some sort of branch managed from Paris.
Casares Rodicio, Emilio. Op. cit. The reminder of Weber, in this case, can only by in a casual sense: Der Freischütz no did not reach Barcelona until 1849, it is unlikely that Cuyás could have had any contact with the score.
Roccatagliati, Alessandro. "Felice Romani, drammaturgo in musica. Caratteri e limiti della prescrizione libretistica nel proceso compositivo del melodramma italiano di primo ottocento", in Revista de Musicología, nº XVI-6, 1993, p. 3151
The libretto was published in Milán, by Luigi di Giacomo Pirola, 1832. (Vid. Black, John N. "The libretti of Felice Romani: a bibliographical survey", in Felice Romani. Melodrammi, poesie, documenti. Florencia: Leo S. Olschki, 1996, p. 240-241.
Arlincourt, Charles Victor. El amor y la muerte, o, La hechicera. Novela heroica, traducida por A(ntoni) de G(ironella). Valencia: Imprenta de Cabrerizo, 1832. Other works by Romani were published in this same collection. Among them, La Estranjera, Spanish version of La Straniera, a version that reached a number of re-editions.
A name coincident with the Normandic locality of Saint Pair, in the region of Granville of the Canal of la Mancha. This place, where exists a church of the eleventh century, originated around the monastery of Scisciacum. The name is derived from the founder of the monastery, , San Paternus, bishop of Avranches. There is no castle in the vicinity. With regards to Gissor, situated in the French state of Eure, it is not an abbey but a famous ruined castle from the nineth century which played an important role in the wars against England in the twelfth century, contemporary to the time of the opera.
The manuscript has the following dimensions: 200x315 mm., made up of horizontal booklets grouped in two acts. Separately, there is the material used for the bands on stage which all have different format and graphs. From now on the manuscript will be addressed as M-450. According to Subirá (Op. cit. p. 16) the material from La Fattucchiera was considered lost during a certain period of time and later found in Vilanova i la Geltrú by Antonio Capdevila. The Biblioteca-Museu, born by initiative of Víctor Balaguer, was founded thanks to funds provided by Balaguer himself and to a public call in order to obtain donations which would increment its capital. Piqué y Cervero donated Cuyás’ material in response to this campaign.
José Piqué y Cervero was born in Tudela. He was a composer and a musician of a regiment. He studied harmony with the teachers Monforte, Colomé, Maseras and Durán. At the age of fourteen he occupied the highest position of the first artillery regiment of Barcelona where he played the piccolo conducted by the senior musician Juan Grassi. In 1831 he began his studies in composition with José Maseras and Pablo Bofill. He later continued as a self-taught musician helped assisted by the peculiar compositional method of José Clariana, Geneuphonia from the Madrid Conservatory; he later studied with Ramón Vilanova, following the methods of the German Reicha and the Italian Asioli. He wrote the opera Ernesto Duca di Scilla which was performed in the Teatro Principal of Barcelona . He studied singing with the Catalans José Davesa and Manuel Testa, and also studied aesthetics applied to music with Francisco Javier Llorens i Barba, professor from the university of Barcelona. The biography published by Saldoni, was sent by Piqué himself in 1860 from Málaga, city in which he held the position of senior musician of the army before heading for the war in Africa. In 1865, he resigned as senior musician of the second regiment of Granaderos of the Guardia Real [Royal Guard], of Guadalajara, Valencia and Murcia, and in 1869 he still lived in Barcelona giving music lessons. (Vid. Saldoni, B. Diccionario Biográfico Bibliográfico de Efemérides de Músicos Españoles. Madrid: imp. Antonio Pérez Dubrull, 1881.)