I suppose it was presumptious of me to think there might not be a wikipedia on zarzuela, which I was asked to report on in class. Here’s the link, but I’ll summarize as well:
Zarzuela is a lyrical dramatic style of theatre that took the place of opera both in the Baroque and Romantic periods (although they stretch the romantic right up to 1950, so it is not held to the same standard as the rest of Europe). Interestingly enough, the hunting lodge called “La Zarzuela” for which the form was named after originally entertained more than just lyric theatre, they had everything from high-brow classical art, to low-brow slapstick amusements like jugglers and clowns.
I still don’t fully trust wikipedia, so I dug deeper and cross referenced their article with “zarzuela.net” which gives a much more in depth look at the form.
I find it particularly interesting that the style spread to central America, particularly popular in Cuba. I wish that I had had the opportunity to see it first hand: I had visited Cuba in the winter of 2004 and neglected to go to the theatre. To be honest, considering the economic status of Cuba I am surprised that the arts still thrives there. It would be interesting to see what contemporary forms have emerged from the culture.
It also makes me curious as to whether this form spread to the Dominican Republic, which is where my family is from. Obviously, the wikipedia article on “Music of the Dominican Republic” makes no mention of classical forms, limiting the stylistic choices to rock, reggaton, and merengue. Another potential option for a wikipedia article, I think.