In 2013 Teatro Real premiered an Opera based on the life of Walt Disney in Madrid,
Apparently, Disney had authoritarian and fascist sympathies
Teatro Real took 32 years of construction before the neo-classical building opened with a ”La Favorita” by Donizetti in 1850. It functioned until ”La Boheme ” (1924) revealed deep cracks when the building was considered unsafe and forced its close.
A military dictatorship embraced by King Alfonso XIII governed Spain from 1923 to 1930, but municipal elections held in April 1931 deposed the king and ushered in the so-called Second Republic. Republican candidates passed measures that reduced the power and influence of the military, the Catholic Church, property-owning elites and other entrenched interests.
Franco, (1892-1975) a known authoritarian rightist, was reprimanded for criticizing the actions and the Spanish Civil War began. Millions died in the Spanish Civil War and the ugly reign of Franco lasted for decades, surpassing those of Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini. Teatro Real slid into ruin and was used as a munitions dump during the Spanish Civil War.
In 1966 Franco reopened Teatro Real as a concert hall. Franco considered opera to be decadent so more or less consigned Opera as unpalatable during his regime. Finally, in 1988, Spain’s Socialist Government decided to rescue the Teatro Real. They chose Jose Manuel Gonzalez de Valcarcel, who carried out the 1966 restoration while ignoring Franco’s orders to destroy the stage so that opera could never again be performed there. This began in 1991, confirming the theater’s reputation for misfortune, Valcarcel died of a heart attack while showing journalists around the site. The Franco regime lasted from 1939-75 when he died.
A new architect, Francisco Rodriguez Partearroyo (broke his leg while visiting the building). In 1996, the final cost had grown to four times the original estimate.
Political soap opera began with Elena Salgado, a political appointee chose Stephane Lissner, from the Theatre du Chatelet into one of the most innovative opera houses in Paris to program Teatro Real.
The Ghost of Walt Disney in Madrid Premiere: 22 January 2013, Teatro Real, Madrid
One recent restless night I got out of bed and turned the All Arts Channel on. They were broadcasting an chromatic opera in English that I only heard the last 40 minutes. It was a very expensive production with Disney cartoon figures; an old man and a child meetin g in a hospital in California seemingly on their deathbed.
The score sounded like Philip Glass so I accidentally saw the second half of THE PERFECT AMERICAN sung in English at the Teatro Real. That was months ago. It was rebroadcast at an earlier hour and I watched the whole thing. It is a bio-pick on Disney and his career including a somewhat delusional Disney meeting Lincoln in his robotic guise first seen. Lincoln as life sized debuted at the New York World’s Fare Illinois Pavilion (1965) and later moved to Disneyland in Florida.
THE PERFECT AMERICAN was a subplot about a disaffected for employee draftsman in Disney studio’s who Walt fired because he wanted a credit for his work. There was a glimpse and a look back at a Labor Strike by Disney workers. His loving wife always backing him up and Fantasyland alla Glass and the libretto.
The audience in Spain seemed clueless about the whole thing. It was better than the Glass opera on COLUMBUS called THE VOYAGER but not by much. Glass took part in the curtain call and they all got polite applause. Next stop was the Perm opera House in Siberia.
An opera destined for oblivion and not seen in Los Angeles or New York at this point if ever.
The Perfect American is an opera in two acts composed in 2011–12 by Philip Glass. It is an adaptation of the Peter Stephan Jungk novel, Der König von Amerika, a fictional work that re-imagines Walt Disney in his later years as a power-hungry racist.
This brings to mind the closure of Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. which closed in 1865 when Lincoln was assassinated. It was immediately closed by the Government as a crime scene. It was also used for 90 years as a warehouse. The Ford Family went bankrupt and his widow eventually relocated to NJ. The National Park service and the Government with Producer Nickie Hewitt took charge and it was restored and re-opened as a Theatre in 1965.