El Gitano por Amor

Gitana, by Raimundo Madrazo
Madrid, Museo del Prado

El Gitano por Amor
was Manuel García's last grand opera, probably begun in Mexico City in 1828, but finished on the boat returning to France in January of 1829. A few excerpts were printed in 1830, but the entire score, as with all García's operas (apart from La mort du Tasse), was never published. Indeed, there is no evidence of the opera ever having been performed. Nonetheless, it remains one of García's most interesting works, for it combines a mature compositional technique (which at times looks towards Meyerbeer) with the Spanish style with which García had begun his career thirty years earlier in Cádiz, Málaga and Madrid. The story, about a young man in love with a gypsy girl who demands that he become a gypsy "for love" was probably inspired by Miguel de Cervantes's La gitanilla.

The manuscript score (contained in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris) reveals García's creative process: characters changed names (Lelio evolved into Fernando, then Hernando; Isabela became Inés; Clarillo became Manolo) and García penned in two different texts in certain circumstances (i.e. these double texts do not represent different verses). Since the work was not published, it is unclear which text he would have chosen.

El Gitano por Amor is a marvelous work. Usually when García composed he was simultaneously occupied with a heavy schedule of performing and teaching. During the long transatlantic voyage he could concentrate for once solely on composition, and this is evident in the consistently high quality of the work. El Gitano por Amor is also enormous! The finale of Act 2 is over one thousand measures long (longer than the finale of Beethoven's 9th). It requires a stellar cast, all capable of vocal strength and agility. The role of Rosita is most demanding and this was almost certainly written with the voice of Maria Malibran in mind: she is constantly on stage, her voice must have the power to soar above the orchestra, yet be capable of dealing with the most demanding florid passages—and all with Spanish charm. The range is from high C down to E below middle C (see No. 12, m. 673)!

Apart from Rosita, the other principal characters (Hernando, Inés, Baldaquín, Manolo, Laura, Marqués) also have substantial music: arias, duets, trios, quintets, and even a septet. García excelled at writing for vocal ensembles and in El gitano por Amor he pulled out all the stops, writing the most demanding bel canto passages and imbuing them with an Andalusian flair.

The opera is set in an unnamed town in Andalucía (probably Seville or its environs).


Hernando, tenor, son of the Marqués, betrothed to Inés
Rosita, soprano, appears to be a gypsy girl in love with Hernando, but is actually the daughter of the Corregidor (Magistrate)
Laura, mezzo-soprano, friend of Rosita
Baldaquín, baritone, servant of Hernando
Inés, soprano, beautiful and wealthy cousin, betrothed to Hernando
Manolo, tenor, brother of Rosita
Marqués del Pino, baritone, father of Hernando
Corregidor, baritone, city magistrate of [Seville], father of Rosita and Manolo
Pablo, silent, companion of Baldaquín

Act I
Hernando and his family (from Madrid) are converging on the city of [Seville], ostensibly to celebrate the betrothal of Hernando to his cousin, the beautiful Inés—whom Hernando has never met. But Hernando wants none of this. He has become infatuated with the gypsy girl, Rosita.

1. Introduction. Baldaquín, Pablo, Manolo, and chorus.
Hernando's servant, Baldaquín, and a companion, Pablo, have come in search of Hernando and find themselves in a camp of gypsies. The gypsies sing and are addressed by Manolo who mentions that he knows they've come to see his sister Rosita. She's inside with Laura and will be out shortly. The gypsies depart.

Recitative: Baldaquín curses the gypsies and laments his having to come here on orders of the Marqués to give Hernando a portrait of his betrothed, Inés. He suddenly sees a man coming out of an inn and it proves to be Hernando. Baldaquín scolds him (¿Qué, diablos, hizo?) and then tells him about the portrait. Hernando is no longer interested in the arranged marriage. Baldaquín surmises that Hernando has been bewitched by some woman and warns Hernando that his father will be arriving soon and that no pleading will change his mind.

2. Duet: "Santo Dios, ¿será posible?" Hernando and Baldaquín
Baldaquín expresses the danger of Hernando's rashness while Hernando sings of his love for his "linda gitana".

Recitative: Baldaquín ridicules Hernando's love. A gypsy chorus is heard offstage. Hernando pulls Baldaquín to the side so that they can watch the scene unobserved.

3. Chorus and aria: entrance of Rosita. Rosita and chorus.
    The chorus, "Viva el gracejo de Andalucía" prepares the entrance of Rosita "Aquí está la gitanilla, amorosita y leal" who flirts with the men in an aria with chorus "Venid gachoncitos".
Recitative:  Rosita asks Laura what she thinks of Rosita's handling of Hernando (i.e. wrapping the son of a marqués around her finger and demanding that he dress like a gypsy and marry her). Laura doesn't approve.
Hernando approaches, addresses Rosita lovingly while Baldaquín expresses exasperation with his master's behavior. Rosita tells Hernando that tomorrow she is leaving the city, perhaps never to see Hernando again. Baldaquín mutters that if it were his doing, he'd send her to hell! Hernando is crushed by the thought of losing Rosita.

4. Trio: "Ay vida del alma." Rosita, Hernando, Baldaquín
The three characters express contrasting sentiments. Rosita tells Hernando to forget her. He says he can't and will go anywhere with her. She consents—but only on the condition that he put on gypsy clothes. After his initial surprise he agrees, while Baldaquín is outraged.

Recitative: Hernando and Rosita talk of marriage while Baldaquín suggests putting Rosita on a cruise to the Indies. Rosita runs offstage to get her brother Manolo's consent. Baldaquín berates Hernando for not upholding the family honor and asks Hernando to consider if he really wants to go through life telling fortunes. Hernando tells him to shut up.

5. Aria: "Es preciso que os lo diga." Baldaquín
Baldaquín warns Hernando to beware of gypsies—they are scoundrels who can't be trusted.

Recitative: Hernando cuffs Baldaquín for his insolence. Rosita enters with the news that Manolo has consented. And she has two suits of gypsy clothes. Baldaquín asks: "Why two?" Hernando says "Stupid: If I have to dress this way, so do you!" As Baldaquín removes his jacket the portrait of Inés falls. Rosita demands to know whose portrait it is. Baldaquín babbles excuses, but Rosita doesn't accept them and accuses Hernando of philandering.

6. Trio: "No mi vida, no me creas." Rosita, Hernando, Baldaquín
Baldaquín explains the situation and Rosita and Hernando make up.

Recitative: Rosita is still suspicious. Manolo enters, sees the portrait of Inés and is enraptured, while Baldaquín comments that this falling in love business seems to be all the rage. Rosita suggests that when Inés arrives Manolo can put on Hernando's clothes and pretend to be him, just for fun. Hernando protests—he refuses to dishonor Inés. Rosita flies into a rage and says that if he doesn't agree to the game Hernando can forget her. Hernando backs down and agrees. Manolo puts on Hernando's jacket and they all go off to join the gypsies, leaving Baldaquín and Laura behind. Baldaquín is still fuming about the gypsy clothes. She tells him "Go to the devil. If you don't like it, take off the jacket". She pulls one sleeve, he pulls another and as they tussle he starts to consider that Laura is not so bad.

7. Duet: "Señor mío yo estoy viendo." Laura and Baldaquín
Baldaquín confesses that Laura has him knocked head-over-heels and he'd do anything for her. They finish the duet with a chorus in praise of the gypsy life.

8. Scene and aria: "Hernando desaventurado." Hernando
Meanwhile Hernando is having second thoughts and he expresses guilt for betraying his father. Yet, he confesses that it is the eyes of his "gypsy girl" that give happiness to his soul.

9. Finale. Rosita, Laura, Hernando, Baldaquín, chorus.
The gypsies welcome Hernando as "one of them", Rosita and Hernando sing a duet and dance, applauded by the gypsies. Suddenly Baldaquín rushes in: "Ay, Señor, somos perdidos." Hernando's father has arrived, is furious and looking for Hernando. Hernando is beside himself. Rosita and the chorus demand to know what it was that Baldaquín told him. The mood changes and the principal characters sing metaphorically about a ship which left port happily but now is caught in a hurricane.

El mar turbado brama.                        The violent sea rages.
Ya rota el barco mísero.                      The wretched boat breaks up.
El huracán desátase,                           The hurricane lets loose,
y el mástil rompe fiero.                       and the mast breaks off.

Y siente el marinero                            And the sailor feels
su esfuerzo desmayar.                        his strength fail.
¡Piedad!                                             Have mercy!

Act 2
Scene: The home of Inés.

10. Cavatina: "Amor, piadoso amor." Inés
Inés longs to see the one she adores and asks Love (piadoso Amor) to give her life.

Recitative: Inés anxiously awaits her betrothed. Manolo enters, shows the portrait which he tells her has received from "his" father. She believes him to be Hernando.

11. Duet: "Que placer tan celestial" Inés and Manolo
Inés and Manolo comment on the pleasures and joy of love.

Recitative: Baldaquín is shouting. Inés asks what the commotion is. He says it's a bunch of gypsies who want to come in as if it were their house. Inés inquires: "They tell fortunes, don't they?" She asks Manolo to have them come in and tell her fortune.

12. Chorus and scene: "La gente honrada por siempre viva." Rosita, Hernando, Baldaquín, Laura, Inés, chorus.
The gypsies greet Inés. Inés is charmed by Rosita and asks her to sing. Rosita obliges and is applauded by the chorus. Rosita then tells Inés that if she wishes to have her fortune told, Rosita's "brother" (Hernando disguised as Manolo) is the one to do it. Hernando predicts that she will marry a man of high bearing. Inés, however, senses that something is wrong and asks him to continue. He acknowledges that she will have a great setback, but it will pass away. Baldaquín rushes in: the Marqués has arrived.

Recitative: Rosita tells Inés that she can believe everything in the fortune that her "brother" has just told. Manolo (disguised as Hernando) suggests surprising his "father" by hiding when he comes. Inés agrees. Inés and Manolo exit.

13. Trio: "Adonde, bien mío, me trajo tu amor?" Hernando, Rosita, Baldaquín
Hernando wonders where his love for Rosita has brought him. Rosita tells him not to worry. They can think up another scheme to get them out of this trouble. Then the three say "Hush (Chito, chito), for he's approaching."

14. Aria: "Dónde está?" Marqués
The Marqués exclaims "Where is she, my niece?" He sees Hernando in gypsy costume among the "rabble" but pretends not to notice so he can see "where this ends up."

Recitative: Hernando faces his father who comments "Gracioso traje." Hernando stutters, trying to explain, Rosita steps in and tells the Marqués that there's nothing wrong with a young man having fun. The Marqués acknowledges that there is no harm done. Then Rosita explains the reason for the costumes: Her brother and Hernando became friends years ago in Italy ("yes," the Marqués remembers) and Hernando suggested a prank of greeting Inés in disguise. The Marqués exclaims "¡Qué locura!" but agrees to go along with the scheme. Baldaquín mutters in an aside that Rosita, with her conniving, could have been a good lawyer.

15. Finale. Rosita, Hernando, Inés, Manolo, Laura, Marqués, Corregidor, chorus.    
Quartet: "Laura, ponte en atalaya." Rosita, Hernando, Laura, Baldaquín
Rosita and Hernando tell Laura and Baldaquín to be on the lookout in case anyone comes.
Duet: "Ay, Rosita de mi vida," Rosita and Hernando
Hernando is not happy with the situation, but Rosita assures him that everything will turn out all right: she has a boat ready by which the two of them will escape. "But what about my cousin and my father?" Hernando asks. Rosita says that her brother will invite Inés to go for a boat ride and then will kidnap her! When Hernando protests Rosita warns him that if he gives her a hard time, she will have his father kidnapped as well. Hernando sings that he is horrified by the deceit while Rosita gloats that she is, on the contrary, delighted by the deceit.
Septet: "Ay, señores de mi alma," Rosita, Hernando, Inés, Manolo, Laura, Baldaquín, Marqués
Baldaquín, who has been on watch, cries out that government troops are at the gate and that the Magistrate is coming to arrest everyone. Rosita exclaims that she has been found out—but what she fears is not for her own self, but for Hernando and how he will be humiliated. In a quartet, Rosita, Laura, Hernando and Baldaquín lament the terrible situation which was impossible to foresee. The Marqués, Inés and Manolo enter. The Marqués demands to know what all the shouting is about. Baldaquín exclaims "Ay, señores, que somos perdidos" and explains the whole story and that Hernando was manipulated by "that witch over there." Inés now realizes that Manolo is not Hernando, the Marqués cries "¡Jesús, y qué tal infamia!" and declares Hernando to be a disgrace to his family. Manolo steps forward and tells him to calm down. But the Marqués expresses pity for Inés while he swears to punish Rosita's audacity. Hernando comes to her defense. But the Marqués exclaims "Hijo infame, vil y bajo. Si de ella no te separas, he de hacer en tí un ejemplo que hará ruido en toda España" while Rosita protests that he should not reject Hernando on her account. Inés cries "Enough" and intercedes with the Marqués on behalf of Hernando and Rosita. Meanwhile Baldaquín declares that this is all the fault of these "malditas gitanas." Laura tells him not to blame the gypsy girls, for nothing will come of this. As the septet comes to a climax, the Magistrate (Corregidor) enters.

Scene: "Qué estruendo es este?" the above and Corregidor
    The Magistrate demands to know what all the noise is about. The Marqués says he has come just in time and demands that he arrest all this riffraff who have taken advantage of him—"including that miserable son of mine." But Manolo approaches the Magistrate ("Señor...") who is dumbfounded when he sees Manolo: "¿Qué miro? El es... ¡Cielo Santo! No hay que dudar: ¡Hijo mío!" Yes, it is his long-lost son! Manolo explains that when he had killed the Duke of Robles in a duel he was obliged to run away. To avoid being caught he took refuge among a band of gypsies. And there he made the most joyful discovery... Manolo shows a jewel to the Magistrate and asks "Do you recognize this?" The Magistrate exclaims that it is the same that his daughter wore when she was kidnapped years ago. "Where is she?" he demands. Rosita kneels before him. She then sings how when Manolo came to the gypsies an old woman recognized him and later, when she was on her deathbed, she called him to her, confessed, begged his forgiveness, and proved the veracity of her claims with the jewel and other signs. "Why didn't you come to me at once?" the Magistrate asks. Rosita says that since Manolo was afraid of the law, they came to the city in disguise and it was only fortune that has now brought them all together. She begs that he have pity on them while the chorus sings "Surely it is she, there is no reason to doubt." The Magistrate says to Rosita, "Come, my child, come embrace me." And Hernando asks the Marqués to pardon him. Rosita asks the Magistrate now to make her happiness complete. "How?" he asks. By consenting to her marriage to Hernando. The Magistrate says it is fine with him if the Marqués agrees. The Marqués in turn will agree if Inés agrees. She does [presumably she's content to have Manolo!]. Baldaquín feels left out: no one has arranged a marriage for him. Laura suggests why not marry her? Baldaquín takes her hand: "Marriage it shall be!"
    Chorus: "Ay, ay, ay, tin, tin" and duet: "De contento yo deliro." Hernando and Rosita
    The gypsies sing and dance while Hernando and Rosita sing:

    (Hernando)                                                         (Hernando)
    De contento yo deliro.                                    I am delirious with happiness,
    Con esta rosa de abril.                                    With this April rose.
    Si la miro me deshago                                    If I look at it I fall apart
    y me empiezo a derretir.                       and I being to melt.

  (Rosita)                                               (Rosita)
    Cuando el amor se apodera                   When love takes hold,
    el pecho no es de marfil.                       one's breast is not made of ivory.
    Por eso nadie ha podido                        Therefore no one has ever been able
    la natura resisitir.                                 to resist nature.

In my opinion, El gitano por amor is García's masterpiece. For the last fifteen years I have tried to persuade publishers ("editoriales") to publish the score and opera companies to perform it —all to no avail. I have recently revised my original transcription (done in 1999) and it is ready to be performed. If anyone is interested, please let me know!  

Libretto Act 1
Libretto Act 2


Please note: An error in the overture has been corrected as of the latest update (May 16, 2016) of this website. I am indebted to Dr. David Hagy of Wake Forest University for bringing this to my attention. I had been aware of a strange modulation at measure 27 but, since García occasionally has quirks in his scores, I thought that it was perhaps just a compositional error on his part. After further examination of the manuscript, however, it was determined that when it had been bound (by his daughter Pauline) the order of two pages had been mixed! This solved the problem. Dr. Hagy prepared the score for the modern world premiere performance by the Wake Forest University Orchestra on April 27, 2016.
NO. 1, INTRODUCTION (Chorus, Baldaquín, Manolo)
NO. 2, DUET (Baldaquín,
NO. 3, CHORUS AND ARIA (Chorus, Rosita)
NO. 4, TRIO (Hernando, Rosita, Baldaquín)
NO. 5, ARIA (Baldaquín)
NO. 6, TRIO (Hernando, Rosita, Baldaquín)
NO. 7, DUET (Laura, Baldaquín)
NO. 8, SCENE AND ARIA (Hernando)

NO. 10, CAVATINA (Inés)
NO. 11, DUET (Inés, Manolo)
NO. 12, CHORUS, SCENE, QUINTET (Chorus, Rosita, Inés, Hernando, Manolo, Baldaquín)
NO. 13, TRIO (Rosita, Hernando, Baldaquín)
NO. 14, ARIA (Marqués)

(It sounds artificial, but nevertheless gives an idea of the music. If you first download the score to your desktop you can follow the score while listening. I do not provide audio clips of the recitatives.)

NO. 11, DUET (
NO. 13, TRIO (
NO. 14, ARIA (

Introduction: Viva el donaire
Recitative: Linda cuadrilla
Duet: Santo Dios, ¿será posible?
Recitative: Mas decidme, Señor
Chorus and Aria: Viva el gracejo de Andalucía...Aquí está la gitanilla
Recitative: Laura, ¿qué te parece?
Trio: Ay, vida del alma
Recitative: ¿Estás determinado?
Aria: Es preciso que os lo diga
Recitative: Basta ya de sufrir
Trio: No, mi vida
Recitative: ¿Has quedado, mi bien, ya satisfecha?
Duet: Señor mío yo estoy viendo
Scene and Aria: Hernando desventurado...Cara gitana
Finale: Viva el guapito
          Ven acá chairo querío
          Así la nave impávida

Cavatina: Amor, piadoso Amor
Recitative: Cuán pesado instante
Duet: Qué placer tan celestial
Recitative: Fuera, fuera
Scene: La gente honrada por siempre viva
          Ay...ay, si quieres cuerpo bueno
          Esta llegada imprevista
Recitative: Podeis hermosa dama
Trio: ¿Adonde bien mío?...Chito, chito
Aria: ¿Dónde está?
Recitative: Vuestro padre, Señor
Finale: Laura, ponte en atalaya
          Ayuto, ayuto...Hijo infame
          ¿Qué estruendo es este?
          Amado padre
          Ven, hija mía
          Ay, ay, ay, tin, tin...Cuando el amor

Originally uploaded 2008
Revised 2015
Revised again May 16, 2016

—J. Radomski

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