Pan y toros, Francisco Asenjo Barbieri

Title Pan y toros
English Title Bread and Games
Composer Francisco Asenjo Barbieri
Librettists José Picón Garcia (1829 – 1873)
Language Spanish, Dutch translation available
Genre Zarzuela (Spanish operetta) in three acts
First performance December 22, 1864, Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid
Time of action Spring of 1794
Place of action
  1. A river-bank
  2. A street
  3. A palace-room
Main parts
  • Princess of Luzán, (mezzo)soprano
  • Doña Pepita, soprano
  • La Tirana, an actress, contralto or mezzo
  • Captain Peñeranda, baritone
  • Goya, the painter, bass/baritone
  • Abbot Ciruela, tenor
  • Corregidor, baritone
  • Pepe-Hillo, bull-fighter, tenor
Prominence of chorus Considerable

2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani/percussion, harp, strings

Special demands

Small band of plucked instruments (guitars, mandolins etc.) in act I; also in act I a bassoon-player on stage; a boy-soprano, children’s choir (if not available to be replaced by women’s voices).

Full score and orchestral parts Available
Level Taxing for some soloists. Choral share not very difficult.
Length About 2½ hours, interval included

Musically the work is Spanish operetta at its best. Brilliant use of authentic folklore (rondalla, bolero, seguidilla etc.). Wonderful combination of Spanish music and Italianate opera.


The libretto is highly characteristic of nineteenth-century opera, but fortunately there is a prominent comic note too: the wordly abbot Ciruela, his actress-friend La Tirana and the three bullfighters contribute many amusing scenes. Moreover, there are some delightful scoundrels, such as the sanctimonious monk parading a “footprint of Our Lord”, the blind beggar with perfect eyesight, the fraudulent district-governor, the incompetent general, and above all the intriguer doña Pepita, the prime-minister’s mistress, a truly magnificent vixen.

Costumes Town’s people, soldiers, policemen, ladies, gentlemen

A rich and rewarding work. Also eminently suitable for amateurs.


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Tags: Barbieri | Fransen