El cóndor pasa (zarzuela)

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El cóndor pasa
Zarzuela by Daniel Alomía Robles
Colca-condor-c03.jpg
The Andean condor, a symbol of freedom from which the zarzuela takes its name
Librettist Julio Baudouin
Premiere 19 December 1913 (1913-12-19) – Teatro Mazzi, Lima

El cóndor pasa (pronounced: [el ˈkondoɾ ˈpasa], The Condor Passes) is a Peruvian zarzuela, or musical play, in two acts composed by Daniel Alomía Robles with a Spanish-language libretto by Julio Baudouin under the pseudonym Julio de La Paz. It premiered in December 19 of 1913 at the Teatro Mazzi in Lima, Peru and was published in 1933.[1] In 2004, the piece was declared Patrimonio cultural de la Nación, an official part of Peru's cultural heritage.[2] Its famous piece is the final tune in the second act, also known as "El Cóndor Pasa".

The story takes place in the early twentieth century, in a mining settlement named Yápac, in the Peruvian Andes and deals with a tragic conflict between Indians and "Gringos", their U. S. citizen bosses. The exploitative Mr. Mc. King, owner of the mine, is killed by Higinio, but is soon replaced by another owner, Mr. Cup, also who is murdered by Frank. The condor of the title symbolises the ideal of freedom.

The eponymous musical piece appears in the finale. The tune is a cashua, a kind of Andean dance similar to a huayno. It was inspired by traditional Andean songs, but has no lyrics.

Background and performance history[edit]

The piano arrangement of this play's most famous melody was legally registered on May 3, 1933 by The Edward B. Marks Music Corp. in the Library of U.S.A.Congress, under the number 9643. In July 2013, the Colectivo Cultural Centenario El Cóndor Pasa (cultural association) re-edited the original script which was lost for a period of time, together with a CD containing the recorded dialogues and 7 musical pieces. The music from the original score written by the author was reconstructed by musicologist Luis Salazar Mejía with the collaboration of musicians Daniel Dorival and Claude Ferrier, and it was re-released on November 14, 15 and 16, 2013 at the Teatro UNI in Lima to celebrate its first centenary. These works (including the re-release of the zarzuela) were possible thanks to the efforts of musicologist Luis Salazar Mejía and cultural promoter Mario Cerrón Fetta (members of the above-mentioned cultural association), who did not received any public nor private support. This zarzuela included the famous homonymous melody based on the traditional Andean music of Peru, where it was declared National Cultural Heritage in 2004.

It was estimated that there are more than 4000 versions and 300 lyrics around the world. The parade scene doesn’t have original lyrics, all of its existing lyrics should be considered apocryphal in every language. This song is considered the second national anthem of Peru, as it identifies Peruvians worldwide

Roles[edit]

  • Mr. Mc. King (baritone), owner of the mine
  • Mr. Cup, owner of the mine
  • María (soprano), Higinio's wife
  • Higinio, María's husband
  • Frank (tenor), María's son
  • Juanacha, Ruperto’s fiancée
  • Ruperto, Juanacha's fiancée
  • Félix, miner
  • Tiburcio, miner
  • Godmother
  • Godfather.
  • Shepherd.

Synopsis[edit]

The story takes place in the early twentieth century in Yápac, a mining settlement in the Peruvian Andes.

Act 1

The first scene begins with the Prelude. It is before dawn and Yápac's miners are heading to work. A male choir is performing a mournful song [En la nieve de las cumbres...(On the snow of the peaks)]. At the end of the song some miners fall behind while listening to the shepherd playing the quena (traditional flute of the Andes); with admiration, they watch him disappear among the clouds that surround the peaks and they envy his freedom. Frank is a young man who doesn't accept the abuse to which he and his coworkers are subjected to by the mine owners. Something tells me that life isn't this way Frank thinks — however other miners accuse him of being ungrateful and a betrayer. Ruperto and Juanacha (two shepherds) enter the stage. Ruperto is playfully chasing Juanacha since they're going to get married. Everyone leaves the stage but Frank, who performs a melancholic yaraví while he reflects on his identity, appearance, and feelings [Pobre alma prisionera...(Poor captive soul)]. Mr. King and Mr. Cup enter the stage while chatting and sight Frank sitting on a rock outside the gallery. Mr. King questions Frank and tells him to get back in the mine after a brief altercation. Mr. King and Cup continue their conversation.

During the fourth scene Mr. King makes the four miners exit the gallery by gunfire. He briefly asks about their progress and sends them back in. Tension grows between Frank and Mr. King. María enters on stage out of breath from the walk, bringing liquor to Mr. King. They talk about Frank, and María tries to intercede for her son. It is revealed that Mr. King is Frank's biological father. María and King sing together [Perdónalo, taita... (Forgive him, taita)], and finally Mr. King agrees not to punish the boy, convinced by the passion he feels towards María. They leave together, while Higinio comes out of the gallery, and furiously acknowledges his anger towards his bosses and plots his revenge.

Act 2

Outside the mine, a dance is being held in honor of Ruperto and Juanacha's wedding that is going to take place in the town, a cachua (dance) is played. During the celebration the sky darkens; a storm will begin soon and the couple won't be able to reach the town to get married. Everyone is praying to the Virgin by singing [Dulce reina de las cumbres...(sweet queen of the peaks)] and miraculously the sun shines again; the couple and friends start dancing on their way towards the town (parade), except for the miners who can’t leave work. During the party, Mr. King has drunk too much and cruelly abuses Higinio. The bullied husband follows the leaving Yankee and when they reach a gorge, he pushes a boulder over him. Mr. King dies crushed. A shepherd witnesses the horrible murder and tells other miners about it. Higinio admits it all, María weeps inconsolably over the death of her lover; the miners, worried of reprisals, fear for their lives. The other owner of the mine, Mr. Cup, arrives with a gun in hand looking for the murderer. Frank faces him defending Higinio and his friends, and puts an end to his life. Everyone is horrified at these events. The appearance of a condor, the first one after many years, is seen as a sign of a new life of freedom and they're filled with hope. "We are all condors", joyfully shout the miners.

Musical numbers[edit]

The work consists of seven musical pieces, four of them sung and three instrumentals. The best known musical pieces correspond to the instrumental ones played in the first part of the second scene. These instrumentals correspond to the Cachua (dance similar to huaino) played during the wedding dance and to the one played during the parade, after the prayer to the Virgin.

Act 1

  • Prelude
  • Male Choir: "En la nieve de las cumbres" (On the snow of the peaks)
  • Frank's Yaraví: "Pobre alma prisionera" (Poor captive soul)
  • María and Mr. King's duet "Perdónalo, taita" (Forgive him, sir)

Act 2

  • Dance (Kashua)
  • Prayer to the Virgin ("Dulce reina de las cumbres" (Sweet queen of the peaks)
  • Parade

Covers and adaptations[edit]

The only original version of the zarzuela (7 musical pieces) has been reconstructed and recorded in 2013 by the Colectivo Cultural Centenario El Cóndor Pasa association. The pieces have been written for orchestra and not for Andean instruments. The most famous parts like the prelude, parade and cachua have been covered and adapted from the piano arrangement that Daniel Alomía Robles sold to The Edward B. Marks Music Corp. in 1933, in New York. These are exempt from the any copyright fee, due to the elapsed time. The parade and the cachua have been widely covered and spread, and in some cases, lyrics have been added (all of them should be considered apocryphal) and generally their rhythms and instrumentations have been changed. In 1965, the American musician Paul Simon listened for the first time the version of the melody of the Los Incas band in a performance that took place at the Théâtre de l'Est parisien (Paris) in which both participated. Simon asks the band permission to use it in his production, to which the band replies that it is a melody belonging to popular Peruvian author with arrangement by Jorge Milchberg (director of Los Incas). Milchberg is represented as the arrangement's co-author because he added two notes for which he charged royalties. In 1970, the Simon & Garfunkel duet covered the Los Incas' version adding some lyrics in English written by Simon under the name El Condor Pasa (If I Could), included in the album Bridge Over Troubled Water. This cover achieved wide international fame. Although Daniel Alomía Robles was not listed in the credits as its writer since it was considered as an Andean folk melody, only Simon was listed as the author of the lyrics. Armando Robles Godoy, the composer's son and Peruvian filmmaker, subsequently wrote new lyrics for the song, taking Paul Simon's version as a reference.

Paul Simon's cover[edit]

In 1965, the American musician Paul Simon listened for the first time the version of the melody of the Los Incas band in a performance that took place at the Théâtre de l'Est parisien (Paris) in which both participated. Simon asks the band permission to use it in his production, to which the band replies that it is a melody belonging to popular Peruvian author with arrangement by Jorge Milchberg (director of Los Incas). Milchberg is represented as the arrangement's co-author because he added two notes for which he charged royalties. In 1970, the Simon & Garfunkel duet covered the Los Incas' version adding some lyrics in English written by Simon under the name El Condor Pasa (If I Could), included in the album Bridge Over Troubled Water. This cover achieved wide international fame. Although Daniel Alomía Robles was not listed in the credits as its writer since it was considered as an Andean folk melody, only Simon was listed as the author of the lyrics. Armando Robles Godoy, the composer's son and Peruvian filmmaker, subsequently wrote new lyrics for the song, taking Paul Simon's version as a reference.

Other versions[edit]

Renowned Argentinean guitar player and composer Eduardo Falú also adapted the song for soloist guitar player. Many other exceptional covers belong to Peruvian guitar players Raúl García Zárate, Manuelcha Prado and Mario Orozco Cáceres.*There is also a cover from the song sung by Trini López. Another cover in Chinese by Teresa Teng. There are covers of Peruvian singers like Yma Súmac, Roxsana and Kesia Rivera with different lyrics. Famous singers Plácido Domingo, Celia Cruz, Marc Anthony, José Feliciano, Esther Ofarim also have their own covers of the song.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Arroyo Reyes, Carlos Eduardo (2005). Nuestros años diez: la Asociación Pro-Indígena, el levantamiento de Rumi Maqui y el incaísmo modernista, p. 150. LibrosEnRed (Spanish)
  2. ^ "Canción "El Cóndor Pasa" fue declarada patrimonio cultural de Perú". 2004-04-13. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2007. 
  • Colectivo Cultural Centenario El Cóndor Pasa, ed. (2013). El cóndor pasa…Cien años después. Lima. ISBN 9786124647208. Registered in the National Library of Peru.
  • Salazar Mejía, Luis (2013). El misterio del cóndor: Memoria e historia de "El cóndor pasa…". Lima: Taky Onqoy Ediciones. ISBN 9786124660504. Registered in the National Library of Peru.
  • Cerrón Fetta Mario, (2014). Cuadernos de Música Peruana Nº 12. Lima.Editorial/ Cuadernos de Música. Register: Legal deposit Nº2008-06894. Registered in the National Library of Peru.

External links[edit]