Last modified on 22 February 2014, at 22:01

History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Spanish Romantic

Leandro Fernández de Moratín (1760-1828) continued excellent probing of social and psychological insight from the previous century with "La mojigata" (The prude, 1804) and "El sí de las niñas" (The maidens' consent, 1806). Another important figure of the Romantic Movement is Ángel de Saavedra, duke of Rivas (1791-1865), who wrote "Álvaro, o La fuerza del sino" (Don Álvaro, or the force of fate, 1835). Following interpretations by Tirso de Molina and Molière on the Don Juan legend, Josée Zorilla (1817-1893) wrote his own "Don Juan Tenorio in two parts (1844).

Leandro Fernández de Moratín wrote two of the best comedies of the Romantic period. Portrait by Francisco Goya (1746-1828)

"The prude"Edit

"The prude". Time: 1800s. Place: Toledo, Spain.

"The prude" text at ?

Clara has so often been punished by her father, Martino, that instead of religion she has learned dissimulation. She intends to enter a convent. Her uncle, Luis, and Perico, servant to Claudio, whom he intends should marry his daughter, Ines, but is rejected by her, learn that Martino will inherit a large fortune from a dying cousin should Clara enter religious orders. From Perico Clara learns that Claudio loves her, not Ines. Though the news is pleasing, yet she intends to continue to dissimulate. "In this world, whoever does not cheat does not succeed," she avers. Perico intercepts a letter meant for Martino, asking for money so that Clara can enter the convent. Pretending to be the brother of Lorenzo, commissioner of the convent, Perico pockets up the full amount and, after speaking to Clara, reveals to his master that "the charming novice burns and dies for Claudio". Claudio and Clara are surprised during a secret meeting by Martino and Ines. Clara pretends she was "occupied in reading Kempis". Ines accuses her of illicitly meeting Claudio, which Clara denies, though admitting she is "a vessel of iniquity". Martino calls Ines a "vile liar, an odious viper". But Luis believes his daughter, not his brother. Claudio's father, Pedro, is set to arrive. Luis insists that Claudio in filial duty meet him in advance. Clara knows that this is done to separate the loving couple. She meets Perico and plans to marry Claudio in secret and be "freed of the execrable crew around me," she says. One day, she sees her father lurking behind her, but while speaking to Perico pretends not to, saying for his benefit: "My heart's desire is to become a shoeless nun, for when austerity is greater, the palm is more magnificent." Martino advises her how to conduct herself inside the convent. At the mere mention of the tempter, Clara, always the false prude, holds his hands and trembles. Luis, wishing to help his niece to a favorable marriage, asks her to be more honest with him, "to throw out the mask of devotion", so that he may defend her against the "strange obstinacy" of her father, but she persists in pretending, so that he wishes not to have anything more to do with her. Meanwhile, fearing Luis has discovered their plot, Claudio contemplates leaving immediately, but Lucia, the servant, assures him that Luis is willing to help him in this marriage despite Clara's distrust of him. Luis receives a letter from the cousin in Seville, saying that since learning of Clara's vocation, he has revoked his intentions and will give all his money to Ines instead. On learning this, Martino is in despair. Moreover, he discovers that his money was never received by the abbess. Perico's treachery is discovered and Claudio summoned, who reveals that he signed a marriage contract between himself and his daughter. Considering herself certain to receive the inheritance, Clara wishes to leave with Claudio, but Luis shows her the letter from Seville, revealing that Ines, not her, is heir to a fortune. But Ines reconciles father and daughter by sharing her inheritance with Clara.

"The maidens' consent"Edit

"The maidens' consent". Time: 1800s. Place: Alcala de Henarès, Spain.

"The maidens' consent" text at ?

Diego and Irene rejoice at his upcoming marriage with her daughter, Francisca, fresh out of a convent. Irene is proud of her, she being "raised without artifice and far from the world's pitfalls". But Irene's servant, Rita, reveals to Calamocha, servant to a man named Felix, that Francisca, despite Diego's wealth, is in tears at the thought of marrying a man of fifty. To Francisca she reveals that Carlos, her lover, has arrived. "Forever gratitude and love!" exclaims Francisca. Irene's opinion is that Francisca should be thankful for her happiness, attributed to her aunts' prayers rather than her "your feeble advantages and my poor efforts," as she says. When Carlos arrives, he intends to prevent the marriage, mentioning a rich uncle from whom he is likely to inherit. "To love and to be loved, that's my ambition, my supreme felicity," Francisca responds. When Diego enters, Carlos discovers that his rival is the same rich uncle. Diego scolds his nephew for leaving his garrison and orders him to leave at once. Unwilling to defy his uncle openly, Carlos pretends to obey. Francisca discovers her lieutenant is gone. "My Lord God," she moans, "what is my crime? What is it?" Rita must hold up her distressed mistress as she walks back to her room. At three o'clock in the morning, Diego spies Francisca out of her room, apparently reacting to the sound of a guitar. Carlos is playing and he tosses a letter up to her, but in the darkness she is unable to find it. She hears a suspicious sound in the room and escapes back to hers. Diego finds the letter and orders the innkeeper to bring back Carlos. Francisca thinks the letter contains merely excuses for his abrupt departure. Discouraged, she hears Diego asking her to open her heart and promising to help her. She thanks him and leaves. Diego shows Carlos his own letter, explaining how he first met Francisca and promising to return to the garrison. He announces to Irene that her daughter loves someone, but not him. "Is it possible you are prepared for such a sacrifice?" asks Irena in wonder, to which he answers: "That is the faith we must yield to the maidens' consent."

Ángel de Saavedra, third duke of Rivas, showed how one accident changes the course of one's entire life. Painting by Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz (1815–1894)

"The force of fate"Edit

"The force of fate". Time: 18th century. Place: Spain and Naples.

"The force of fate" text at ?

Rejected as a son-in-law by the marquis of Calatrava, Don Alvaro seeks to elope with Leonora, but is prevented by him. As he drops his pistol in submission, it goes off by accident and kills the marquis. Alvaro and Leonora flee but are separated after a battle ensues between his men and the marquis'. Leonora reaches the convent of the Holy Angels, where she requests the father superior's permission to live inside a hermitage in penance of her father's death. He accepts. The new marquis of Calatrava, Carlos, seeks to avenge his father's death and his sister's dishonor but is unable to find Alvaro. By chance, without knowing who he is, Alvaro saves his life in a tavern brawl. Both use assumed names while fighting in Naples against the Germans, when Carlos returns the favor by saving Alvaro's life. As Alvaro lies in surgery from a bullet wound in the chest, Carlos discovers who he is and, once recuperated, challenges him to a duel, although against the law as recently promulgated by Charles III of Spain. Alvaro hesitates before accepting this challenge, until Carlos mentions he knows his sister to be alive but intends to kill her, too. Alvaro kills him and is imprisoned for it. When the Germans attack the Spaniards, Alvaro is set free, vowing to enter a life of religion should he survive. He does so, entering the convent of the Holy Angels, where he is discovered by Carlos' younger brother, Alfonso, who also challenges him to a duel. Alvaro succeeds in stabbing him. Fearing his end near, Alfonso asks for spiritual comfort. To accede to his desire, Alvaro knocks at the hermitage door for the saintly hermit reported to be living there. Recognizing Leonora, Alfonso stabs her to death and dies by turning the weapon on himself. In despair at losing her, Alvaro plunges to his death down a deep ravine.

José Zorrilla drew a romantic picture of the Don Juan legend

"Don Juan Tenorio, part 1"Edit

"Don Juan Tenorio, part 1". Time: 1540s. Place: Seville, Spain.

"Don Juan Tenorio, part 1" text at http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Spanish/Zorilla.htm

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/5201

Don Juan Tenorio and Don Luis Mejia have wagered on who should prove the most accomplished man within a year. Each boast of women cheated and men dead in duels, Juan being the winner in total numbers of both. Juan is ready to do more: steal away Donna Anna, Luis' betrothed. Their talk is interrupted by Don Gonzalo, commander of Calatrava, who was asked by Don Diego, Juan's father, to yield the hand of his daughter, Ines, in marriage to him, but overhearing this scandalous conversation, declares he will never have her. Affronted, Juan replies that either he gives her to him or he will take her away by force. Overhearing this, a masked man comes forth to say he will never know him more, at which Juan tears off the mask, revealing his father. These interruptions do not prevent Juan and Luis on betting who will obtain each other's intended. Both are arrested, as each denounced the other to the law, and both easily released. A worried Luis heads straight for the house where Anna stays the night before the promised wedding day, but so does Juan, whose servant, Cuitti, sneaks up behind Luis and ties him up while his master steals her away, as well as Ines from the convent. He removes Ines to his country house, where the liberated Luis arrives to challenge him, but they are interrupted by the arrival of Gonzalo, incensed at having lost his daughter. Juan tries to convince him of his conversion: "Commander, I adore Donna Ines, persuaded that heaven sends her to guide my steps in the path of goodness," he pleads. But the commander does not believe him. Angry at this refusal, Juan shoots Gonzalo to death and then stabs Luis to death before jumping in the river and entering a tug-boat as officers of the law contemplate the murder scene.

"Don Juan Tenorio, part 2"Edit

"Don Juan Tenorio, part 2". Time: 1540s. Place: Seville, Spain.

"Don Juan Tenorio, part 2" text at http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Spanish/Zorilla.htm

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/5201

Don Juan is hard at work in the Teatro de la Comedia de Madrid, 1911

Don Juan contemplates the pantheon paid for by his father before his death: statues of his son's victims: himself, Gonzalo, Luis, and Ines, dead after Juan abandoned her. A repenting Juan is astonished at seeing Ines' statue disappear over the pedestal and her shade appear before him, who reveals she will either save or lose her soul with his. Juan believes he is delirious. To shake it off, he invites two friends over to his house, where he says they will be alone unless the statues care to join them. As Juan sups with his friends, a knock is heard at the door, yet his servant, Ciutti, looking out from a window, can find no one. A second knock is heard with the same result, then five more times nearer and nearer inside the house until Juan asks the presence to enter through the chamber door, which the commander's statue does. The two friends faint at the sight of this vision, who reveals that Juan will die the next day, having one last chance to be converted, daring him to meet him, then disappearing through the wall. Juan next receives the visit of Ines' statue, who before disappearing the same way, discloses that tomorrow they will sleep in the same tomb. Seeing his friends awake, he accuses them of infusing a drug in the wine, as do they, so that a duel becomes as inevitable as the two friends' deaths. Juan goes back to the pantheon and finds a supper-table laid with snakes, garter-snakes, bones, fire, and ashes, followed by the commander's statue, who declares: "All that you see before you is where valor, youth, and power end" after which the death-knell sounds. The commander's statue takes hold of one hand to bring him down to hell, but the other hand is raised towards heaven and taken by Ines' statue. Don Juan is saved. "Let it be known to all," says he, "that the God of clemency is also that of Don Juan Tenorio."