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Rediscovery of “long-lost” Granados opera June 28 2016

For over two decades, the musicologist Walter Clark wondered what had happened to a "long-lost manuscript": the full original score of the opera "Maria del Carmen" by the great Spanish composer Enrique Granados. The original edition had supposedly been salvaged from a 1916 shipwreck in which both Granados and his wife tragically drowned. Nonetheless, all performances of this opera after 1916 until 2014 were of a reconstructed patchwork edited by one of Granados's sons. The original edition had apparently been sold in 1938 by one of their sons to a New York publisher. Finally, in 1970 this edition was reported to have been destroyed in a warehouse fire.

Clark was skeptical about this supposed loss, noting that no inventory had been conducted of the warehouse items. So as part of his research for a biography of Granados, he contacted the grandson of the 1938 purchaser. Eventually, in fall 2009, Clark got some very good news: all three volumes of the score had indeed been located! Clark then acquired the opera for the University of California, Riverside where he is Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Iberian and Latin American Music. He has since overseen the full restoration of the manuscript which had suffered some significant smoke and water damage,  his staff later scanning all of the restored pages in preparation for its eventual publication in Spain. This project was completed in 2014 and the full score has now been published by Trito, a publisher and record label specializing in Spanish, Catalan, and Iberoamerican classical music. There is also a recording planned as well as performances in several Spanish theatres.

It will be interesting to see the popular and critical reaction to this revived score as it is not every day one hears about the revival of a classical piece missing for close to a century. For fans of Granados and of opera in general, this makes for a very exciting development in classical music and opera. Or as Walter Clark put it, "This is a 20-year detective story with a happy ending.”


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