Literature about Areu Collection

José Luis Temes, a music conductor specializing in zarzuela, mentioned this collection in his book, “El Siglo de la Zarzuela:”

“Scholars have found no evidence of the presence of zarzuela in the east coast of the United States at least until 1871, when the pioneer company of Manuel Areu arrived in New Orleans. From there he organized expeditions to several cities in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. He teamed with brothers Mauri (of Valencian origin, although established in Cuba), and they took some repertoire to Florida and elsewhere in the United States. In his amazing work as an entrepreneur in America, Areu came to have his own collection of e zarzuelas, both Spanish and American, which recently appeared in the city of Jerome (Arizona).

“The story of Manuel Areu-a former colleague of Thomas Breton, both violinists were in the pit of the Apollo Theater for decades – as an entrepreneur in America is exciting. The Collection consists of 131 Manuel Areu scores, blocks and/or scripts of zarzuela (with other chamber music and other styles). It is conserved today in Albuquerque (University of New Mexico) and is one of the best sources of knowledge of the Spanish zarzuela in North America, Mexico and Cuba.

Temes, José L. El Siglo De La Zarzuela: 1850-1950. , 2014. Print.

In 1976 Mary Montaño began cataloguing the files. She wrote her Master thesis, The Manuel Areu Collection of 19th Century Zarzuelas, and in 1987 Sally Bissel wrote her doctoral thesis about the collection. Both works present multiple possibilities for further investigation. However, the research focused principally on the particularities of the collection and Areu’s biography.

Sally Bissell proposed possible lines of research:

“One study could center on an analysis of works from the Areu Collection. Since many of the zarzuelas no longer survive in print elsewhere, the collection provides an opportunity to study now rare works that were, nonetheless, popular during the nineteenth century. Important information can be obtained about the style of nineteenth-century zarzuelas, to add to knowledge already documented.

Collection manuscripts should also provide additional information on compositional techniques of the major and minor composers represented, and clues about performance practices during the nineteenth century.  As a companion study to musical analysis, a detailed evaluation of literary sources of zarzuelas could yield equally useful information about the nature of these works.

Finally, Manuel Areu’s children provide the historian with yet one more challenging possibility for study. Their involvement in the performance of zarzuelas as a vaudeville company in Mexico and the southwestern United States from 1905 to 1917, presents numerous possibilities for uncovering a later chapter in the spread and development of zarzuela.

Manuel Areu’s desire to keep a historical record of his times through his memoirs and collection is a gift of lasting quality. He provides us with a picture of himself as a talented and versatile man. He shares his views on the political struggles of burgeoning Hispanic nations, giving us a nineteenth-century perspective on these events. And with his dedication to the arts and his undying interest in history, Manuel Areu transcends the limits of his particular cultural environment to become symbolic reflection of the passionate century in which he lived.”

Bissell, Sally J. Manuel Areu and the Nineteenth-Century Zarzuela in Mexico and Cuba.  S.J. Bissell, 1987. Print.

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