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2008 Events

History of Zarzuela Lecture/Performance
Gina Sikora (soprano), Angel Feliciano (tenor)
Alan Giambattista (piano)

7:30pm Wednesday March 5, 2008
Jacobus Lounge, Brockway Hall
SUNY Cortland, NY


There will be a Lecture/Performance called "A Brief History of Zarzuela" at 7:30pm on Wednesday March 5, 2008 in the Jacobus Lounge, Brockway Hall at SUNY Cortland. It will feature tenor Angel Feliciano, who frequently performs as a principal in Zarzuela, opera and oratorio, both in the NYC area and in Puerto Rico. Mr. Feliciano will be joined by Cortland resident Gina Sikora (soprano) and Alan Giambattista (piano) in presenting both the history and examples of this genre. Admission is free.

Angel Luis Feliciano, described as having a beautiful lyric voice was born in Brooklyn, New York, of Puerto Rican parents. His vocal training commenced with the late Katherine Gardella. He is a graduate of the Harbor Performing Arts Center in New York, where he earned a master degree in music and continues to study voice with Siri Rico Berenstein. He began his career singing zarzuelas with various companies in the New York area under the direction of Pablo Zinger, Silvia Brito and others. He has performed in the following zarzuelas: El Dúo De La Africana, El Barbero De Sevilla, Agua, Azucarillos y Aguardiente, Las Leandras, La Cuarteria De El Muerto Parao, Luisa Fernanda, La Dolorosa, and Los Claveles.

Gina Sikora, soprano, studied voice in her native Peru with the famous coloratura soprano Lucrecia Sarria. At the age of 16 she began to sing professionally with the international company of zarzuelas and operettas under the direction of Faustino García, touring South America. She earned her doctorate in comparative literature with a specialization in medieval studies at Binghamton University and has taught at Syracuse University, Hamilton College, Binghamton University, Tompkins Cortland Community College, Cornell University, and SUNY Cortland. Her most recent performances were with Stephen Wilson in San Jose, Costa Rica (where she presented this program of Piazzolla's vocal tangos for Veritas University) and in New York City where she performed the role of Mariana in the Zarzuela Luisa Fernanda.

Alan Giambattista, piano, is the accompanist for the SUNY Cortland Choral Union and, over the last ten years, has frequently accompanied Cortland High School students at their choral concerts and New York State School Music Association festivals. When not making music, he teaches physics at Cornell University.

Zarzuela is a genre of Spanish language operetta. Traditionally, "Zarzuela" takes its name from a part of the Royal Palace in El Pardo (near Madrid) where the first performances of this genre took place in the mid-1600s. The site was a hunting lodge of the King that was somewhat overgrown with brambles or zarzas. However, even this name may be a reference to an earlier tale called "Baile de La Zarzuela", whose origins may be traced as far back as the Medieval period.

Regardless of the origin of the name, Zarzuela is to Spanish culture what Gilbert and Sullivan is to the English. The subjects vary from serious drama to farce, from love story to political commentary with traditional melodies and dances often incorporated, giving it a distinctive Spanish character. Over the centuries, the popularity of Zarzuela has varied widely. The 1700s saw the dominance of Italian culture in Spanish society, to the extent that the Zarzuela largely disappeared, except in the form of the short tonadillas that served as an outlet for Spanish language musical theater.

The mid-1800s saw a great resurgence in the popularity of the Zarzuela and the examples that will be given in the Lecture/Performance will be taken from works of this more recent period. There will be excerpts from: Marina (1871) by Emilio Arrieta, El Barberillo de Lavapiés (1874) by Francisco Asenjo Barbieri, Doña Francisquita (1923) by Amadeu Vives, El Último Romántico (1927) by Reveriano Soutullo and Juan Vert, and Luisa Fernanda (1932) by Federico Moreno Torroba.

This event is supported by a number of grants and organizations: CALS (Campus Artist and Lecture Series), the SUNY Spanish Club, the New York State Music Fund, the Cortland College Foundation, TC3 Dept. Of Foreign Languages and Zarzuela Central New York. For additional information on Zarzuela check ZarzuelaCNY.Org or email/phone Gina Sikora at Sikora777@aol.com