The world of musicology and more specifically those who are dedicated to the Spanish musical comedy of the 19th century, that is, the zarzuela, is currently experiencing a debate around intellectual property and the interpretations of leftovers in the public domain, which are those on which their authors can no longer claim the exploitation of their rights: those for which no one charges any more. No one, unless a critical edit has been made that reactivates the copyright machinery for a living person who is not the original author.
It is a back door to the legitimate protection of the rights of adaptations or derivative works that, misused, gives rise to cases such as the SGAE wheel, in which some authors used classical music to which they incorporated a pair of arrangements, they recorded them and then went through the box when this music sounded, for example, in the background on the telemarkets or other television formats of the night time slot. This morally reprehensible spirit is what the maestro Enrique García Asensio referred to when, in the presentation of a new critical edition of the zarzuela Don Gil de Alcalá, created by Antonio Moya, he said that it seemed “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 calderón, so that someone can continue charging. ”
Don Gil de Alcalá It is a work by Manuel Penella that entered the public domain in 2019 and consists of two critical editions: one by Miguel Roa published in EMEC, which is the one that has been performed from 1994 to today, and the new one by Moya. Roa’s has been criticized for its licenses with respect to the original even by the author’s own family, the actresses Emma Penella and Emma Ozores, the composer’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter. “He should not like anything to have his work in front of the public in a different way than he had it,” said Emma Ozores at the presentation of the critical edition; “Justice has been served,” he added.
The Teatro de la Zarzuela will take its tables in May 2022 Don Gil de Alcalá. Instead of using Roa’s or Moya’s, it has decided that “it would be more profitable for the theater to order a copy, not a critical version, of the manuscript kept in the SGAE Archive”, indicate sources from the National Institute of Arts Scenic and Music (INAEM). Roa’s edition was above market prices, while Moya’s was competitive, but ordering a copy of the manuscript by Juan de Udaeta represents “an investment” thanks to which “the theater would have its own materials of the work for future reruns, a fact that entails significant future savings “, add the same sources.
A ‘patrimonial duty’
But Antonio Moya, who has spent extensive time and has done work that is being praised within the profession, wanted his edition to be represented, for its fidelity to the original. “Having a critical edition with a quality like that of my work, the option of the Teatro de la Zarzuela is not understood”, says Moya. “I have made an offer of public interest,” he adds, proposing the transfer for 20 years for a symbolic price and without exclusivity to the Teatro de la Zarzuela. The theater has replied to elDiario.es that “this proposal, if included in a contract, could be considered abusive [contra Moya] by proposing an off-market price. ”
The Theater “recognizes the work of Mr. Moya, whose version is documented” but has preferred “to apply his criteria and choose freely and, without conditions, develop his own materials, from the author’s own manuscript.”
Daniel Bianco, the director of the Teatro de la Zarzuela, considers that it is “a patrimonial duty” to make a copy of the manuscript, which “is perfect”. “The critical edition is a very valid work but, in this case that the work is legible, it does not seem correct to me that a public theater has to pay rights for a work in the public domain,” he explains. “Now it is owned by the theater forever,” he adds.
Bianco explains that Juan de Udaeta’s edition, unlike the critical editions that are habitually used, is only a copy, “it does not generate a new edition” and neither 5 nor 10% of copyright will have to be paid. Udaeta. This musicologist has published six zarzuelas at the Complutense Institute of Musical Sciences (ICCMU), with little critical apparatus (between seven the least and 134 the most). INAEM sources value that his “extensive experience in critical editions and copying of manuscripts” offers “total guarantee”, as well as his career as an orchestra conductor, which allows him to know the needs of the musicians who will play the work. It is not the first time that De Udaeta has done this work for the Teatro de la Zarzuela, he already did it for Maria del Pilar by Gerónimo Giménez, The Calatravas by Pablo Luna and in September of this year Circe scored by Ruperto Chapí when we have the information.
The musicologist Antonio Gallego, former director of the Cultural Services of the Juan March Foundation, values that the edition of Don Gil de Alcalá by Antonio Moya “is very good and original, but that is an exception to what is normally done”. The critical apparatus of Moya’s work, compared to the works edited by the ICCMU (using the same unit of reference), consists of 3,500 lines. Gallego has lamented that “once an edition is done as God intended, this is the payment that the musicologist receives”.
A theater is not a university
Daniel Bianco became the director of the Zarzuela in 2015 through a competition, with a project so that “the Teatro de la Zarzuela corresponds to a public, accessible and affordable place, open to all”. The average age of the attendees has lowered, from 65 to 55 years old, and he has brought young people together with specific projects, so that they get to know the zarzuela, which he prefers to call “Spanish musical comedy theater.” It also programs concerts, flamenco and ballets. Musicology professors such as Víctor Sánchez Sánchez, from the Complutense University of Madrid and a researcher at the ICCMU, criticize that Bianco’s project strays from the line that had previously existed and that he has “neglected musicology a lot.”
Bianco amends him, arguing that he schedules conferences and colloquia with the presence of musicologists who provide clues regarding the works that are scheduled but that “this is a theater, not a university.” “I respect musicology but a theater is a space where the most important thing is the union of the public with whoever is on stage, what is important is what happens in it,” he adds.