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> Ramón Garay: Compendium sucinto de la revolución española (opera) (1815)

Ramón Garay

Ramón Garay Álvarez (1761-1832), a native of Avilés, studied in the cathedral of Oviedo until 1785 when he left for the court in order to perfect his organ playing and compositional skill under the chapel master and organist of the Royal Chapel, José Lidón. After taking the  required public examination in 1787, he became chapel master at Jaén cathedral, where he was to live until his death in 1823. During his time in Jaén he composed, aside from the requisite religious music, ten symphonies and an opera which brought him a certain degree of fame in his lifetime - to the point that Fernando VII invited him to court to direct his orchestra. His symphonies have great importance given the relative scarcity of symphonic music in Spain at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th.

The Compendium sucinto de la revolución española offers us a panoramic view of the most important episodes  of the hectic years of the War of Independence (1808-1814) against the France of Napoleon Bonaparte through 30 musical pieces, each preceded by an introduction and divided into 3 acts and 13 scenes (8 in the first and 5 in the second). It is written for four singers: an Angel (soprano), Spain (contralto), a Patriot (tenor), and a Supporter of the French (bass). Among the scenes in the drama we have the 2nd of May, the national uprising, the battle of Bailén, the entry  of the troops into Madrid, the entry  of the armies in France etc.

When Fernando VII - “the desired one”- returned to the Spanish throne in 1814 the monarchy needed to take stock and legitimize its absolutist power through the use of whatever propaganda means they had at their disposal. It was then that Garay composed the opera in order to extol Fernando as the ideal patriot (Garay dedicated the work to the monarch), while at the same time singing the praises of the church’s role  throughout the years of conflict.

Works by
Ramón Garay (1761-1823), Compendium suscinto de la revolución española (drama in two acts, 1815)

4 vocal soloists, choir (12 singers), 7 violins, 2 violas, 2 clarinets, 2 horns, 2 bassoons, 2 cellos, double bass, pianoforte and director (35 MUSICIANS)
The work was premiered in December 2008 in Úbeda in a coproduction of the Sociedad Estatal de Conmemoraciones Culturales (SECC) and the Festival of Úbeda Baeza