In the eighteenth century Italian opera was everywhere, Spain included, and in such a city as Barcelona the composers whose works were heard were much the same as those whose works were heard in (say) Naples, Vienna, or London. But the Spanish had native popular forms of their own. The Zarzuela, an immensely popular type of theatrical performance (generally one act and humourous in characters), with a very long history yet still quite alive today, resembles 'English Opera', or perhaps, more closely the old French Vaudeville, or the German Singspiel, i.e. it has spoken dialogue, interspersed with songs, choruses and dances.

Amongst modern composers of the Zarzuela are Tomás Bretón (1850- 1923) and Ruperto Chapí (1851- 1909).

Pedrell wrote several operas, but they are very little known. Later operas have been composed by Granados and especially, Falla. The much discussed Goyescas of Granados (first production, New York, 1916) is, curiously, a series of piano pieces recast into an opera; it has an intensely national flavour. Falla's Brief Life ('La Vida Breve', 1905) and his short Master Peter's Puppet Show ('Il retablo de Maese Pedro', first performed 1923) are also expressions of national feeling in national idiom; they are much more 'modern' in their technical methods than the work of Granados.

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