Monday, July 26

The business of making minimal adjustments to a zarzuela in the public domain and charging for its rights


Although they were written almost two centuries ago and in many cases their copyrights have entered the public domain, the productions of zarzuelas that are performed in the few Spanish theaters that give the genre do not interpret the original score and libretto, but rather a editing them. It is a work of updating, revision, transformation and arrangement carried out by musicologists, a work halfway between philology, musical history and interpretation. The last production of the Teatro de la Zarzuela has been The king who raged, scored by Ruperto Chapí when we have the information. The works of this master have been in the public domain for 32 years but derivative works, such as critical editions, if they are original enough, continue to generate copyright, and will do so for 70 years, as if they were a new work. That is, when it is represented The king who raged, Although neither Chapí (who died in 1909) nor his heirs are paid any more for their work, the critical editor Tomás Marco does, who published his version of this zarzuela in 1996 and is on which the recent staging is based.

The critical edition of The king who raged by Tomás Marco has 15 lines. elDiario.es, with musicological advice, has prepared a comparison of this and other editions published by the Complutense Institute of Musical Sciences (ICCMU) which, as Aurèlia Pessarrodona, lyric singer and professor of the University Master’s Degree in Musical Interpretation and Research at the University says Internacional de Valencia, “practically has a monopoly on zarzuela”, as they are the ones that have devoted the most to recovering it.

In the graph that accompanies this article, the line of each column has been taken as the unit of measurement (all editions share the same model) and exclusively what the experts consider a critical apparatus and not the sources used, the synopsis or the biography of the authors.



To consider that the edition is “critical”, the publication of the score must be accompanied by a reasoned explanation of the changes that have been made. “The critical editor must describe what interventions or manipulations there are. Of a zarzuela there will be many versions over time but it is important that the interpretable has good criteria, with a good description of sources and a good critical apparatus, where it is explained which ones. have been the interventions of the editor “, explains Pessarrodona.

Editing a work consists of recovering the original manuscript (if there is one, it has sometimes been lost), or the different scores that the composer wrote, comparing it with the editions that have been made over time, evaluating their differences, making decisions , fix possible errors, introduce it into music software and adapt it as necessary to make it playable. It is about “fixing a text”, according to Pessarrodona.

Going into detail and to give a single example of an absence of development that is easy to detect in many of the volumes, in the 15 lines of critical apparatus that Marco wrote, it is explained that the cornets have been replaced by trumpets (something common to update instruments ancient by modern), and that “some material error of specific notes or chord fills has been corrected”, but it does not explain what those fills are that he has made to the original score. He also says that “from the harmonic point of view, hardly anything has been played” and that the orchestration “has filled in those duplicities that were obvious oversights”, without specifying which ones.

“In some limited cases some small addition or instrumental color detail has been made,” but which ones are unknown. It is indicated that articulations have been incorporated (the way in which the transition from one note to another is made) as it was customary in the works of the time not to write them. And nothing more. Professor Pessarrodona indicates that, if the corrections or additions are not stated, it creates “concern”; for an edition to be considered critical it must “state what they are”.

When a copy is an original work

In the Legal Dictionary of Culture, Inmaculada Sánchez Ruiz De Valdivia indicates that in “the successive revisions or updating of a work” it will be a derivative work “as long as said revision is not limited to a material correction with introduction of indexes with minor changes or trivial introductory cuts. ”

The teacher Enrique García Asensio, who achieved television popularity in the late 70s thanks to his program The world of music, admits that it seems “sad” to him that “sometimes in the SGAE and in other places new adaptations of the zarzuelas have been made for which some time has passed and that they put some change or take away some pilot whales, so that someone can continue to charge. ”

Marco, as a critical editor, obtains his profit from the rental of the score, deposited in the SGAE, where the partichelas (separate scores for each instrument) can be rented for as long as necessary for rehearsals and interpretation. To these profits, 10% of the box office collection is added or 5% if it is a work in the public domain, by a special agreement with the SGAE. The king who raged It has been on the bill for 14 days, with tickets ranging from 5 euros to 50, making an average of 30 euros per ticket and with 85% of the capacity sold, the critical editor’s profit would be around 21,740 euros. The play was also performed 12 years ago on the same stage. It will continue to generate profits each time it is represented until the year 2066.

Complutense editions, in question for years

If the Teatro de la Zarzuela had programmed The king who raged Just six months later, the rights to the edition of Tomás Marco would be expired if someone defended, before a judge, that the interventions are so minimal that they did not deserve a protection of 70 but of 25 years. This is the protection that the lawyer specializing in Intellectual Property Carla Bragado, who has also completed regulated musical training, thinks that it corresponds to her, according to the Intellectual Property Law. The director of the Theater, Daniel Bianco, explains that he was not aware of the date and that, in any case, programming decisions are not made by looking at those deadlines but by artistic criteria or when the right singers are found.

Bragado explains that a critical edition can have two types of protection, that of “other rights”, which are those considered related or related (protected with 25 years from publication), or that of a derivative work, depending on the originality of the critical edition (protected with 70 years from the death of the author). “The true critical editions are accompanied by an added value. To what extent that added value gives the work originality so that it stops being a simple mechanical work is the great debate”, clarifies Bragado. “It is a very casuistic issue, you have to go to each specific case and you usually need an expert to determine whether it is a derivative work or not,” he adds.

Tomás Marco, current director of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, has The king who raged edited by the ICCMU, an institution attached to the Complutense University of Madrid and that was created in 1989 with the sponsorship of the SGAE, the INAEM and the General Directorate of Universities and Research of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Community of Madrid . The SGAE made the decision in 2014 to leave the ICCMU because it did not “agree with the management’s criteria” and the agreement with the Institute was not “satisfactory”, according to SGAE sources. Among those directing criteria that they did not share, there was the one that “there were few musicologists” who were commissioned with critical editions, which became “a very closed preserve”, according to these same sources.

Emilio Casares was in charge of the direction of the ICCMU. He did so for 25 years, from its foundation until his retirement in 2014, at which time he was replaced by Álvaro Torrente, professor of Musicology and also president of the Torrente Ballester Foundation. Torrente clarifies that, for the ICCMU, its entire collection of critical editions are considered derivative works, with a protection of 70 years.

According to Torrente, SGAE dissociated itself from the ICCMU due to a change of course during the presidency of José Luis Acosta. Two years earlier, the business of some authors with works in the public domain had been discovered, the so-called ‘wheel’, in which the televisions that programmed those works in the night time slot were involved. It was a delicate moment for the entity, which had already seen that in 2011 the media talked about how Emilio Casares used the ICCMU – at that time located inside the headquarters of the SGAE itself, where he had the historical archive (CEDOA) at hand, which is the place where scores are rented for interpretation — to make critical editions with little critical apparatus.

It had already been shown that the modifications that Emilio Casares made with The rebellious of Chapí were minimal. According to the musicologists consulted, Casares created a school and that has been the trend in practically the rest of the Institute’s catalog. Of course, the world of music recognizes the work of recovering old scores that, if it were not for the editions, could not be played, since there are no parts or reductions of song and piano (used for rehearsals) in the original manuscripts.

The critical apparatus as a thermometer of the intervention on a work

The prestigious musicologist Antonio Gallego, former director of the Cultural Services of the Juan March Foundation, a leading researcher on the work of Manuel de Falla, believes that “the [ediciones críticas] of the ICCMU they are not by far. “For his part, Pessarrodona admits that there are quite disparate volumes in the ICCMU, that there are better and worse editions. Sometimes, he explains, it is intended to make more practical than critical editions, with the aim of to be played without going into further justifications. In fact, in some of them, for example the edition of The impossible greater in love, Love defeats him by Martín Moreno (2005, 12 lines of critical apparatus), the author admits that it seemed “excessive” to indicate the changes because “it would have loaded the edition of innumerable notes that would make reading unnecessarily difficult”. Also in the edition of The barberillo of Lavapiés by María Encina Cortizo and Ramón Sobrino (zero critical notes) stresses the “practical nature of the edition”.

Not all musicologists consider that having more or less critical notes is the criterion for measuring the originality of a work. The abundance of notes in an edition is “a flexible criterion,” explains Álvaro Torrente. “There are editions that make a whole volume of critical apparatus and others that it is better to reduce it. The criterion is that it be a useful critical apparatus but not enormous,” he clarifies. Regarding the criticisms that other musicologists make to the editions of the ICCMU, its director says that they seem “legitimate and justified” and that he would like the works that are published to have a “greater” critical apparatus, although “it depends on the sources that have each work. ”

Since Torrente took office, the rate of publication of critical issues has dropped dramatically, in part due to the lack of funding provided by SGAE. He has only published three. Enrique Mejías signed the Glory and wig de Barbieri in 2015 (seven lines), Juan de Udaeta that of Curro el de Lora by Alonso in 2017 (21 lines) and José Máximo Leza As a gift to the deity, cruelty and Iphigenia are never worshiped in Thrace by José de Nebra in 2018.

Víctor Sánchez Sánchez, professor of Music History at the Department of Musicology at the Complutense University of Madrid and a researcher at the ICCMU, explains that the editor’s work is much broader: there is a task of recovering the scores, since the originals are untouchable for the orchestras, a study of sources and the digital copy that is done “with great rigor” and that “is not paid for”. “It can be two years of work that are not covered with two performances in the theater, nor with fifteen,” he says.



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