Few musical genres are more full-bodied than zarzuela. The Spanish art form, which originated in the 17th century at Palacio de la Zarzuela, King Philip IV's hunting retreat outside of Madrid, which was surrounded by zarzuela, or bramble bushes, is a combination of opera, melodrama, dance, theater and comedy that has had audiences laughing and crying for some 400 years now. The early baroque zarzuela, popular from about 1630 to the mid-1700s, was influenced by the mythology and rustic themes of Italian opera. By the mid-19th century, romanticism and nationalism found a new voice in zarzuela, which began utilizing popular Spanish jargon and idioms and centered around the controversial, realistic themes of revolution and passion both romantic and political. With its ornate Spanish baroque influences, downtown's Million Dollar Theater provides the perfect setting for Chamber Music in Historic Sites' final concert of their 2008-2009 season, when the ensemble El Mundo presents !Zarzuela! Led by stellar lutenist-guitarist Richard Savino, the “first rate band of minstrels” perform Sebastian Duron's “Salir el Amor del Mundo” (“Cupid's Final Folly”), along with other examples of zarzuela at its funniest and flashiest.

Sun., May 31, 4 p.m., 2009

LA Weekly