Church of the Monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste (Cáceres) | 23 September 2023

AMOR. NO TE LLAME AMOR: Canciones en el teatro del Siglo de Oro

This first verse of “El caballero de Olmedo”, one of the best known works by Lope de Vega, gives the title to this programme that focuses on the music that accompanied the plays of the Spanish Golden Age; solo songs with a generally profane text whose origin is found in songs or airs performed in coemdies, operas and zarzuelas and which were called tonos. These songs, or tonos, were separated from the original works as they were originally intended, and became part of an independent repertoire within courtly circles, not only Spanish, but also Austrian and French, where this music was very successful. Let us remember that Louis XIV of France was the son and husband of two Spanish women who introduced part of the traditions of the peninsula to the court of the neighbouring country. The musical characteristics of tonos are their simple melodies, of a popular nature, and their great rhythmic complexity, highlighted by the accompaniment of the Spanish guitar.

While, in the rest of Europe, due to Italian influence, the succession of Recitativo and Aria is imposed as the standard form of theatrical music, in Spain the traditional structures of estribillo (refrain) and coplas (stanza) are preserved, although merging experiments between Hispanic and Italian forms were not uncommon.

Our programme Amor, No te llame amor brings a series of tonos together, mainly by Juan Hidalgo (1614-1685), who is considered one of the best composers of this genre and author of the first Spanish opera, “Celos aun del aire matan”, which he wrote with the playwright Calderón de la Barca whom he used to work with since 1657. The programme includes a tune by the former master of the Royal Chapel with Felipe V, Sebastián Durón called “Abril floreçiente”; a tune by Manuel Egüés entitled “¿Quieres estarte quieto, Cupido?”, which is part of the Manojuelo Poético-Musical de Nueva York, a manuscript compilation of poetic-musical pieces of the 17th and 18th centuries that is preserved in the library of The Hispanic Society of America; and the beautiful anonymous tune “No hay que decirle el primor”, which was very famous at the time that Cervantes himself names it in “El rufián dichoso”. The programme is completed by three instrumental pieces by renowned composers, such as Antonio Martín y Coll and Diego Ortiz.

With this concert, we hope that the audience will be able to recreate in their minds what an evening in court or an afternoon in open-air comedy theatres that filled the city of Madrid was like.