An ebullient combination of musical theater and light opera in which various elementsall the way from refined classical arias to spoken dialogue and lowbrow slapstickintermingle with wit and zest, zarzuela is probably the only musical genre to be named after a bramble bush. The first zarzuela was written for King Philip IV of Spain in 1657 and performed at his hunting lodge, La Zarzuela, which was surrounded by zarzas, or brambles. A couple of years back, LA Opera took the plunge into this colorful, flamboyant realm with Federico Moreno Torrobas 1932 zarzuela, Luisa Fernanda, a love triangle set in 1868, in revolutionary Spain. And this week, Pacific Lyric Association presents their owns production of the passionate story of romance, death and the fight for political freedom during Spains Glorious Revolution (La Gloriosa), in which Queen Isabella II was deposed. Federico Moreno-Torroba Larregla, the son of the composer, has flown in especially for the occasion to conduct his fathers famous score, and recalls that my father was close friends with the librettists, Federico Romero and Guillermo Fernandez Shaw. They met at the café every day to drink, eat and talk about art and politics. When Romero and Shaw showed him their libretto for Luisa Fernanda and asked him to compose the music, he was struck by the parallels between the Spanish political climate of 1868 and the current one in 1932. Gabriel Oliva directs; choreographed by Lindsay Martin; cast includes Teresa Hughes-Oliva in the title role; Gabriel Reoyo-Pazos and Vincent Solbes alternating as Javier; Renee Rulon Cortez as Duches Carolina; and Carlos Oliva as Don Vidal Hernando.
Thu., Feb. 19, 8 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 20, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 21, 3 & 8 p.m., 2009