|For many, La Gran Vía is the essential género chico zarzuela. By turns simple and sophisticated, satirical and celebratory, musically direct but subtly organised, its vitality and popularity are undimmed by time. Yet strictly speaking La Gran Vía isn't a zarzuela at all, but a revista (revue). There's virtually no plot. The characters are either archetypal or named after Madrid streets. As a glance at the ICCMU variorum score shows, its creators chopped and changed their musical and verbal material regularly to keep the social comment freshly topical.|
Chueca and Valverde had been collaborating since 1875. They had already enjoyed huge success with La canción de la Lola in 1880, and La Gran Vía was to eclipse even the controversial Lola in popularity. Like many of Chueca's scores, the original version of La Gran Vía was conceived as a suite of songs and choruses based on popular dance forms - Polka, Waltz, Tango, Jota, Mazurka, Chotis and March. Later additions (seldom heard today) included a children's choir, another Polka and Waltz, and a Pasodoble. Chueca's melodic and rhythmic vitality are as potent today as ever they were, and many of the numbers still retain their status as popular hits. As for Valverde, current musicological opinion suggests his contribution was primarily the addition of orchestral polish.