During the summer of 1828 there was a drought in Mexico and so a
special novena to Our Lady of Remedios was held to seek Mary's
intercession for a divine solution to the problem. The novena was to
with a special performance of Manuel García's
Salve Regina in the Cathedral.
was not to be, however, because García was to find himself (and
his Salve Regina) a pawn in a
dispute between liberals (the city's politicians) and conservatives
(the Church hierarchy). The Cathedral Chapter didn't want to have
worldly opera singers in the Cathedral and insisted that the Salve at the end of the novena be
sung by a religious order. Their argument was that, by having actors in
the Cathedral, the congregation might confuse a "place of worship" with
a "place of entertainment." The liberal Correo de la federación mexicana
lashed out against the Chapter's decision:
that which cries for the festive pen of Molière or the caustic
one of Voltaire is the notion that the Chapter should avoid the danger
that the public might focus its attention on the merit of the music and on those who perform it with their voices and
their instruments. That is to say that, in order to avoid such a
'danger', only a lousy flautist
should play in the Cathedral and that the worse the music is, the
better served will be the worhip of God and His saints. Have we
forgotten that God enjoyed David's harp?
...Furthermore, for the Chapter to
be consistent, they should prohibit the musicians of the Cathedral
choir from ever belonging to the theatre orchestra so that the public will not confuse it with the
holy place of worship; likewise, they should be ordered to never
play at dances, weddings or parties
because the public might confuse these with the holy place of worship. What
foolishness arises when things are done thoughtlessly! May Sr.
García be consoled by the thought that God and the Holy Virgin
and we also appreciate his Salve.
(20 June 1828; quoted in Radomski, Manuel
García, p. 226)
Nonetheless, it seems that the
decision of the Cathedral Chapter was upheld and that García's
Salve was never performed in his lifetime. The work, for male choir and
soloists (both tenor-tenor-bass) with orchestra, shows yet another side
of García's creativity: it is a very sweet, intimate work.
García's own religious convictions remain a mystery. His
daughter, Pauline, in 1867, said he believed "neither in God nor the
devil" (April Fitzlyon, Maria
Malibran: Diva of the Romantic Age
(London: Souvenir Press, 1987), p. 26; quoted in Radomski, Manuel García, p. 255). But
he did join in a Corpus Christi procession while in Mexico (Radomski, Manuel García, p. 221).
Perhaps, like many a Sevillian gentleman through history, he wandered
from the Faith1, but retained sentimental memories of a
devotion and the effusive public display of religiosity (as seen in
Seville's famous Holy Week processions) throughout his life.
Mexico City Cathedral
photo Mary Ann Sullivan
Be that as it may, the Salve Regina
is a charming compact work that recently received its world premiere in
performances by the California State University San Bernardino Chamber
Singers on their tour of Spain (summer 2010) under the direction of Andrew
1Molly Nelson-Haber has recently brought to
attention the fact that García was a member of the prestigious
masonic lodge, Les Chevaliers de la
Croix, in east Paris as early as 1811. This merits further
exploration! See "NEUKOMM et la
Franc-Maçonnerie" at: http://www.musimem.com/neukomm.htm
Download the vocal score of García's Salve Regina:
Ad te clamamus
This music is for personal use only.
All copyright restrictions apply.
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