How is it that the Association of Stage Directors decided to carry out this monograph on Galdós’s theater?
Carlos Rodriguez: In the Association we have always had a great interest in Galdós and his production, in fact, in issue 100 of the magazine La Reason de la Sinrazón was published, accompanied by a magnificent text by Rodolfo Cardona and two others by Juan Antonio Hormigón and Fernando Doménech –We remember that it was the first solo edition after the princeps edition– in addition to the various edition notes that the directors have published over the years, each time they have faced a text or version by the Canarian author. As an example, I cite that of Juan Antonio Hormigón, founder of the Association and the magazine, as well as Secretary General of the same until his death two years ago, who mounted La de San Quintín in 1983. It was a montage that later had its version in the emblematic television program Estudio 1, starring Fernando Delgado and Rosa Vicente. So we gladly accept Carmen Márquez’s proposal to carry out this monograph, in fact, it was also planned to be accompanied by an activity that was to take place in Madrid and Las Palmas, but the pandemic, as we know, did not allow it either. In fact, the number has been delayed, despite being finalized on time, but printing problems caused by the circumstances we are going through, have delayed its appearance on paper and then have also marked the delay in the presentation here in Las Palmas.
Carmen Marquez: Yes, I must thank the great reception that the proposal for this monograph had. I am grateful to each of the authors, who have agreed to generously collaborate and, especially, to the management and editorial committee of ADE-Teatro for producing this monograph. And, of course, a memory and dedication of it to Juan Antonio Hormigón As Carlos has said, Juan Antonio Hormigón was a great connoisseur of Galdós and his work. Regarding his theatrical production, he maintained that he made great contributions to develop the scene, which perhaps at the time were not fully understood, neither by the theater people nor by critics. With Hormigón we began to talk about the opportunity to carry out this number, in which we focused on reviewing his presence on the scene and how his texts were faced at the time of the premiere and today. Later, after the death of Juan Antonio, Manuel Vietez, current director of the magazine and Carlos, as well as the entire ADE team, faced the number with great effort and have given me all their help and facilities so that I could leave as we wished. I take this opportunity to thank the enormous interest of the entire institution.
What is the great contribution of this monograph to Galdosian studies?
CR: We wanted to make our modest and respectful contribution, with which we can contribute as stage directors that we are, from the perspective of the direction, to an author who entered the scene when the profession of the theater director was forging, just as now we know it. In general, it was a moment of great changes in the scene and Galdós wanted to participate in them. So the contribution, as a question, is to give the point of view of the professionals who should bring Galdosian texts to the scene.
CM: In effect, what this monograph contributes is the approach from the stage praxis. Let us remember that the theater has a double nature, the textual and the scenic. We have wanted to focus on life on the stage, has it been healthy and full? When and why have Galdós’s texts been taken up again? Has it been by election of the directors or by commissions motivated by centenarians and other celebrations? Of course, it is not that we have done the complete work, because it would take more time and more space, but I do think that we have done a general, significant and illuminating review.
There has never been such a resounding success and that it has generated such a wide clamor, as that of ‘Electra’
What works does it contain?
CR: Eleven articles, in addition to Carmen’s presentation, plus two unpublished plays. There are studies carried out by researchers, writings by stage directors and playwrights who have made stage versions of their novels and, finally, the works that have Galdós as the protagonist. In the end it has turned out that the plays that are included have been written by the current president of the ADE, Guillermo Heras, and by his Secretary General, Alfonzo Zurro, something that we did not know in advance, since they are the result of orders prior to assumed those positions and we had already discussed the possibility of including them. One focuses on Galdós’ theatrical thinking and the other, which starts from the correspondence with Emilia Pardo Bazán, focuses more on Galdós as a person.
CM: We wanted to present a global vision of the presence of Galdós on the scene, from the absolute premieres in Madrid, to his continuation on the stage, which, unfortunately, has been very rare after his death, especially after the civil war. Later, in the transition, some montages were assumed, not too many, especially versions of his novels. Yolanda takes a tour of her theater, then Rosa Amor focuses on Electra, the greatest of her successes, and María de la Luz González talks about lyrical theater. I take a short tour of the stage life of his production. Guillermo Heras reflects on Galdós’ theatrical thinking and César Oliva focuses on El abuelo and his film version. The remaining works are by the playwright Jerónimo López Mozo, who took over the version of the first series of the National Episodes in 2008, and by stage directors. From the deans of the direction, as is the case of Fernández Montesinos, to the newer ones, such as Nacho Cabrera, who begins to perform versions of Galdós’s theatrical pieces long before the centennial acts began.
What was Galdós’s theatrical thinking?
CM: He was in the renewing line of the European scene of the moment, but despite this he wrote traditional texts in the structure and accommodated to the tastes of the Spanish scene. Guillermo Heras speculates in his article that the reason may have been the lack of spaces for experimentation in Spanish theater.
Do your plays reflect your interest in music?
CM: In her article, María de la Luz González Peña recalls her love of music and her knowledge and tastes as a music lover and harmonium player. He alludes to musical evenings in his work, as well as to his role as a critic of lyrical theater and musical seasons, noting that he was very conscientious and informed about the show, the interpretation and the reception of the public.
Does that explain why zarzuelas and operas were made of his works?
CM: It is precisely to this section that González Peña devotes the most attention, with specific data from librettists and musicians. In addition, it also refers to parodies, we must remember that the first third of the twentieth century was especially fruitful in this genre, all successful work was parodied.
Why have you recovered the text that Juan Antonio Hormigón made about his montage of La de San Quintín?
CM: For being an example of the exhaustive way in which a director deals with the assembly of a text and one of the few shows after the Civil War that took a dramatic text by Galdós.
Why was Electra your greatest success?
CM: Rosa Amor answers that question by taking a tour of the text in which she focuses on the reasons for his success, detailing why the public identified so much with him. There has never been such a resounding success and generated such a broad outcry, for and against, as Electra.