Pan y Toros. Goya in Literature 5 • November 2015

Literature, music and theatre are honoured once more the figure of Don Francisco de Goya. This time it’s the famous zarzuela ‘Pan y Toros’ (Bread and Bulls) by maestro Francisco Asenjo Barbieri, composer, musicologist and opera conductor from Madrid. It is a zarzuela in three acts, with libretto in verse of José Picón. It was premiered on 22 December 1864 at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid.



The title of the work refers to the Spanish expression, heiress of the latin panem et circenses (bread and circuses), which describes the feast of the bulls as a diversion that feeds the low passions of the people and dampens the social conflicts.

The argument focuses on the end of the 18th century in Spain, and tells a liberal conspiracy to King Carlos IV to roll back the influence of his Prime Minister, Manuel de Godoy.

Political intrigue that gives rise to the history place, by one side, iniquitous corrupt aristocracy, the franchised and the clique, headlined by chief magistrate Quiñones and Pepita Tudó, lover of Godoy, and on the other, the people, the illustrated and cultured aristocracy, with Goya, the Princess of Luzán and Captain Peñaranda, and as a leader and saviour of the homeland, Jovellanos. Pepe-Hillo, Pedro Romero and Costillares bullfighters also make their appearance in the work.

It is a historic fresco which Barbieri gives a music that has its roots in the popular and goyesco. Thus, emphasizes the dignity of the tune of the 18th century, among other reasons for the musical folklore in Spanish, such as bolero, jota, seguidilla, pasodoble, the gavota and the contradanza and characters as sellers, manolos, manolas, sheriffs, walloon guards, members of a brotherhood and dancers.

It is the first play with success that introduces the figure of Goya, being therefore precursor of goyesco items that so successfully and broadcasting would have throughout the 19th century.

Because of its political content, suffered problems with censorship under the reign of Isabel II.


Francisco Asenjo Barbieri was born in Madrid 3 August 1823, in Zorrilla Street, known then as of the Deaf, and died in the same city on 17 February 1894. After starting studies of Medicine and Engineering, the Italian opera decided to his vocation.

Features José Luis Tellez that Barbieri is the most important musical personality born in Spain between Antonio Soler and Isaac Albéniz and would be called to take to its zenith the model of zarzuela in three acts.

His major works include: Gloria y peluca (Gloria and wig) (1850), Jugar con fuego (Play with fire) (1851), Los diamantes de la Corona (Crown Diamonds) (1854), Mis dos mujeres (My two women) (1855), El Diablo en el poder (The devil power) (1856), Pan y Toros (Bread and Bulls) (1864) and El barberillo de Lavapiés (Lavapiés barber) (1884), considered his masterpiece.

He founded the Society of Bibliophiles, was an indefatigable researcher in the archives of the Cathedral of Toledo, the Monastery of El Escorial and the Royal Palace in Madrid and published, among other gems, the Cancionero de Palacio (Palace Song Book) inexhaustible source of inspiration for him and the musicians who happened to him. In addition he contributed decisively to the construction of the Theatre of the Zarzuela, opened on 10 October 1856.


Jose Picón García was born in Madrid in 1829.

He studied architecture but abandoned the race to fully engage in dramatic literature. Attracted by the theatre, he opened in 1859 a short piece, El solterón (The Bachelor), which was very successful. He specialized in librettos of zarzuela, who composed several for Cristóbal Oudrid and Francisco Asenjo Barbieri, above all. He gained popularity with the libretto of Bread and Bulls, with Asenjo Barbieri music and premiered on 22 December 1864, at the Theatre of the Zarzuela in Madrid; the work was represented for three years without interruption and was banned by Queen Isabel II by alleged antiroyalist allusions.

As librettist of the zarzuela is one of the best and least conventional of the history of the Lyric Theatre. He died in Valladolid, in 1873.


The origin of Bread and Bulls (according to the dictionary of the Zarzuela), began writing on 18 January 1864, reason why Picón had to write the script, partial or completely, along 1863. On the other hand, Salvador Valverde ensures Picón gave the libretto to Barbieri in 1864 and that Barbieri was able to compose it in a single month. The work itself could be divided into three parts. The submission responds to the first act in which the characters are displayed. The central part represents the dramatic climax, the heart, vital in zarzuela grande. The final outcome occurs in the latter, the third act.

It was one of the most successful of all the zarzuela repertoire works, and of course, by José Picón. He filled the scenarios since its debut, as already recognized the author before the prohibition of work in 1867, (also banned the bands to make use of the famous parade of manolería).



Princesa de Luján (Princess of Luján): Liberal, contrary to Godoy. Mezzo-soprano.

Doña Pepita: Pepita Tudó, morganatic wife of Godoy. Soprano.

La Tirana (The Tyrant): famous popular singer. Soprano.

La Duquesa (The Duchess): Duchess of Alba. Soprano.

La Ciega (The blind): Soprano

Peñaranda: Captain of the army. Baritone.

Goya: Famous painter. Baritone.

Abate (Abbot): Comic Tenor.

General: baritone.

Quiñones: Corregidor. Baritone.

Pedro Romero: Famous bullfighter. Comic tenor.

Pepe-Hillo: Famous bullfighter. Bass.

Costillares: Famous bullfighter. Baritone.

Santero (Species of beggar): Comic Tenor.

Jovellanos: Illustrious Spanish liberal. Actor.

A brother of the mortal sin: Bass.

A waiter’s Chalk: Tenor.

The zarzuela consists of 15 musical numbers. Begins with an instrumental intro in which the author presents the two environments on which rests the work: the dramatic with the appointment of the Marseillaise, and comedian, represented by the music of popular Hispanic character.


The action takes place in Madrid in 1792. In scene, a family of blind on the banks of the Manzanares river commenting on the news of the day. On the right, the house and studio of the Goyas. Enter the chief magistrate Quiñones and receives the news of the fake blind on the last developments in the house of Francisco de Goya. The chief magistrate then climbs to the house of Goya, where maintaining a conversation with Doña Pepita, which discussed the new political events. Appears the general, announcing the defeat and the consequent withdrawal of the Spanish army.

To prevent possible riots, the chief magistrate commands that bullfights be offered, which will carried out by some of the most popular bullfighters: Pepe-Hillo, Romero or Costillares. At the ceremony of choice of the bullfighters, the Abbot, commissioned by the chief magistrate, cheats in favour of Romero. Captain Peñaranda remembers the disastrous military campaign and his astonishment to see how people in Madrid live apart from all this. In the house of Goya, the chief magistrate ordered to arrest the Captain, but appears the Princess and gets to defend him. At the same time advancing a parade which intends to publicly apologize to the King of the soldier sentenced to death. The Princess, moving among the crowd, is headed into the Palace calling for release of the soldier, carrying documents that Captain Peñaranda confided.


The action takes place in a Street in Madrid. It is nigh time. From the balcony of a Palace, where a dance develops, the blind man tries to convince the santero for the death of a soldier but is scared by the arrival of the town crier of the Mortal Sin. Doña Pepita tells the chief magistrate her concerns, as the Princess could destabilize the scene, got the Royal pardon and also informed the monarch of the military situation. The chief magistrate is aware and convinces the King of the alleged falsification of these documents, trusting that signed peace with France, which would allow them to keep the political situation. Appears the Princess -convinced of the failure of the King, who cares about the game and only listen to the opinion of Godoy- accompanied by Goya, the Captain and the Abbot. Because of this situation, they decided to resort to Jovellanos. The Abbot communicates the wound Pepe-Hillo has been done while was bullfighting. They want to make responsible for this the Princess and Jovellanos by their desire for change with bullfighting. The Princess is convinced that, given this situation, the fight is necessary. When dismisses the Captain confesses to him that it was she who healed him of his wounds in Bayonne. When the Captain is left alone, the santero tries to stab him, but is frightened when appears that of the Mortal Sin. Faced with this situation the blind decides to stab the santero. Hearing the mortal cry, the chief magistrates believes that they have killed the Captain, according to his wishes.


Onstage, Jovellanos tries to convince the Princess to delay the profession of vows, while someone appears by surprise and he hides behind the dresser. There is Doña Pepita that apologises to the Princess and announces that it has signed the armistice between France and Spain. The chief magistrate and the General, that want to hasten the entry of the Princess in the convent, come to convince her. The bloody cape of the Captain that presents the chief magistrate is about to change the plans of the Princess, that suddenly hears out a song in the voice of the Captain, deducing that is still alive and decides to confront the chief magistrate, Doña Pepita and the General. It’s a messy moment of confusion at the scene. In all of this appears Goya with the Extraordinary Gazette where it appears the new appointment of Jovellanos as Minister. All together celebrate the end of the conflict situation, relying on Spain, who will know how to defend against the French.


From this page we urge readers to listen to this great zarzuela and, if possible, accompanied by the libretto, the enjoyment will be higher. Appears a Goya which has nothing to do with the previous opera, Goya by Gian Carlo Menotti. We hope, through music, get closer to the always mysterious figure of the painter.


The almost only complete version (several numbers missing, including a duo of the Princess and Doña Pepita, as it explains the Zarzuela’s dictionary, was left singing perhaps already in the 19th century for its difficulty, and that makes most valuable the recording contained between fragments) is the following:

Alhambra 1956 – Directing Indalecio Cisneros to the great Symphonic Orchestra and José Perera to the Cantores choirs of Madrid choirs and sing Ana María Iriarte, Conchita Domínguez, Manuel Ausensi, Carlos Munguía, Rafael Campos, Carlos S. Luque, Enrique Malvado, Joaquín Portillo and Gregorio Gil.

(It can be heard on YouTube the complete works).


– CASARES RODICIO, Emilio: Bread and Bulls, in Dictionary of the Zarzuela, Spain and Latin America, Madrid: Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales, 2003, vol. 2, pp. 466-473.

– CASARES RODICIO; Emilio: Francisco Asenjo Barbieri. Vol. I. The man and the creator. Madrid: ICCMU, 1994.

– BNE, National Library of Spain; Digital newspaper archive.

– Program of the representation of the work. Symphony Orchestra and Choir of the city of Gijón – Jovellanos Theatre. 6 February 2011.



By compiling texts and various information: Silvia Pagliano