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hat Like Larra's author, he concludes that he will support himself by That translating novels from the French.


The prices which Larra received for his works from the publisher ore, Manual Delgado are on record; here are some of them:

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Roberto Dillon


Un desafió, Siempre, Las desdichas de un amante dichoso,
No más mostrador, Felipe, and Una imprudencia.

El arte de conspirar.

Price for which sold, in reales


















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Don Juan de Austria, derecho de representación..
Partir a tiempo.

While Larra received such small sums for his plays, his salary newspaper work was better than that of any Spaniard of his time. He was paid twenty thousand reales for contributing to El Español for one year, and he had signed a contract at double that rate with the proprietors of El Observador and El Mundo three months before his suicide in 1837.

Copyright laws did not exist in Spain until the middle of the last century; at least, none that were observed." Zorilla bemoans this fact in several places in his Recuerdos; for example:8

Mis obras, que son tan malas como afortunadas, han enriquecido a muchos, y mi Don Juan mantiene en el mes de octubre todos los teatros de España y las Américas Españolas; ¿es justo que el que mantiene a tantos muera en el hospital o en el manicomio, por haber producido su Don Juan en tiempo en que aun no existía la ley de propiedad literaria?

Zorilla sold his Don Juan Tenorio for twelve thousand reales, and for all thirty-two of his plays, including all incidental profits, he received less than three hundred thousand reales. Even so, he was considerably more fortunate than the authors who preceded him by a decade.

After selling his play to the theater and the rights of publication to a bookseller, the author could hope for no further rewards unless

❝ Carmen de Burgos (Colombine), Figaro, Madrid, 1919, p. 152.
Larra, Garnier, Vol. I, pp. 76 ff; p. 122.

$ Zorrilla, Recuerdos del tiempo viejo, Vol. I, Barcelona, 1880, Prologue,

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he was granted a benefit performance. Zorilla1o speaks of the not "gratificaciones y beneficios acordados alguna vez por las empresas. E García Gutiérrez received the net proceeds from the performance c El trovador on March 12, 1836.11

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Prices for plays had not changed as much in two centuries an a third as we might have expected. In 1601 Lope de Vega receive in five hundred reales for La hermosa Alfreda, and this must hav represented about the average.12 The price paid in London in Shakespeare's time was about six pounds.13

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Mesonero Romanos, in his article entitled "Los cómicos cuaresma" (first published in April, 183214), gives us some informa tion concerning the pay of actors. Speaking of the companie recruited by the managers (autores) for the provinces, he says:

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se figura a cada individuo lo que se llama partido; v. gr. — primer galán, entra con partido de 40 reales; B, con 30, y C, con 20; Mesonero goes on to explain that this is not a definite salary, bu represents the proportion according to which the proceeds of performances are to be divided. He says further that these actors int the provinces, even in the larger provincial capitals, usually drew only half or a quarter of the partido; hence the wretchedness in which they lived. "Sólo en Madrid, Barcelona y alguna otra ciudad pueden subsistir con decoro y dárselo también a la escena;


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At the beginning of the seventeenth century, ten to fifteen reales a performance seems to have been about average pay for a good actor.15 At the very beginning of the nineteenth century, a primera dama or a primer galán received thirty-eight reales.1 Since the prices for seats were the same in the early 1830's as they were av quarter of a century before, the salaries of the actors were very probably about the same.

The small salaries received by actors and the niggardly prices

10 Op. cit., Vol. II, p. 381.

11 Revista Española for that date.

12 H. A. Rennert, The Spanish Stage in the Time of Lope de Vega, New York, 1909, p. 177.

13 Idem, p. 178.

P. 41.

14 Mesonero Romanos, Panorama matritense, nueva edición, Madrid, 1881,

15 Rennert, op. cit., pp. 181 ff.

16 E. Cotarelo, Isidoro Máiquez y el teatro de su tiempo, Madrid, 1902,

pp. 21 ff.





the paid to authors were not entirely the fault of the managers. The Corral del Príncipe (1579) and the Corral de la Cruz (1582) had of been founded by two semireligious organizations, the Cofradía de la Pasión and the Cofradía de la Soledad y Niños Expósitos, which built and leased them, dividing the profits for the benefit of the wed charitable purposes for which they had been established.17 A similar burden of charity rested upon the Madrid theaters in the 1830's, and the sum which they were obliged to provide for this end amounted to no less than four hundred thousand reales a year. Larra gives us this information, and he goes on to quote from a municipal reglamentos which urges that these burdens be removed. The authors of the petition affirm that there is no real connection between the Frailes de San Juan de Dios, the Hijas de San José and the Hospital de San Fernando. "Estos son los partícipes de una buena proporción de sus productos, de que procede que los actores sean mal pagados, la decoración ridícula y mal servida, el vestuario impropio e indecente...
















There was another burden which had long caused dissatisfaction: the number of "deadheads," who began to give trouble in the seventeenth century if not before.19 Larra mentions the matter in his most illuminating Reflexiones acerca del modo de resucitar el teatro español20 thus: . "Dejemos a un lado un número considerable de asientos de todas clases que (los teatros) están obligados a dar de balde. . ."; and in his ¿Qué cosa es por acá el autor de una comedia (Artículo primero)21 some of those who enjoyed the privilege of free seats are named. Among them are the censor who read and granted permission to produce the play, the representatives of the municipal government, the doctor of the theatrical companies, the officer and soldiers of the guard, actors off duty, the singers, etc. One important person must pay for his seat: the very author of the play. This last was no longer true in 1849, at any rate, for a decree governing the theaters of the kingdom provided in that year that the author should have the right to occupy at the first performance of his play a box or six seats free of charge, and one seat free at each

succeeding performance.22 In addition to those who had a technical th right to free seats, a number of rascals (batuecos) were in the habit t of slipping into the theater, occupying any seat they found vacant, slipping out when the tickets were taken up, and entering again later.23

The appearance of the theaters of Madrid as described by contemporaries was what we might have expected from the preceding pages of this article. The description by Fernández de Córdova24 has often been quoted. His picture could hardly be more depressing. The flickering oil lights afforded weak illumination but a strong odor; the boxes were very small, extremely dirty, and poorly furnished; the cazuela or women's balcony had only wooden benches without backs; the orchestra and other seats were broken and dilapidated. From the galleries came pestilential odors, and the whole house was filled with smoke. In winter the theater was bitterly cold, and in summer stiflingly hot. The ushers were grossly discourteous, and the audiences not much better. To raise the curtain (an operation accompanied with a great deal of noise) four sturdy men called arrojes swung down clinging to a rope, thus pulling up the curtain by their weight.25

The picture of the Teatro del Príncipe given us by Mesonero Romanos in 183826 is similar. Viewed from above, the inside of the theater looks like “una caja de estuche o nécessaire sin las piezas correspondientes"; viewed from below it resembles the niches of a Madrid cemetery. The seats are poor, the lighting insufficient, and the ceiling covered with smoke.

Further information with regard to the material aspects of the theater is afforded by complaints which appeared from time to time in the newspapers. The matter of lighting is frequently mentioned. An unsigned review of Ventura de la Vega's Hacerse amar con peluca (which play, incidentally, took in 5,000 reales) appeared in the Revista Española for Décember 19, 1832, and in his article the reviewer says it would be highly desirable for the lamplighter to 22 N. B. Adams, The Romantic Dramas of García Gutiérrez, New York, 1922, P. 18.

23 Larra, Robos decentes, Postfigaro, Vol. I, pp. 190–191.

24 Mis memorias íntimas, Madrid, 1886-1889, Vol. II, p. 185.

25 Larra, ed. Garnier, Vol. II, pp. 339–40.

26 El teatro por fuera, in Escenas matritenses, Madrid, nueva edición, 1881, pp. 261 f.


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arrange his lights beforehand, so that he would not be forced to let down the chandelier in the middle of the performance to renew its fainting strength. Mesonero tells us that this chandelier was composed of a circle of oil lamps (quinquets), and he implies that they dripped. Speaking of the ceremony of lighting them, he says:27

Majestuosa operación que observan con sorpresa y entusiasmo las tiernas criaturas que han asomado a los palcos, y de que huyen por precaución todos los desdichados a quienes tocó sentar perpendiculares bajo la influencia de aquel mecánico planeta.

In another article28 Mesonero thus comments on the lighting of the stairs of the theaters:

un menguado farolillo (de los farolillos que alumbran pálidamente las escaleras de nuestros teatros) ...


An optimistic gentleman, writing to Cartas Españolas (October 22, 1831), affirms that after all the theaters are not so bad. He asks rhetorically:

Have we had seats in the patio very long? Were there any tickets? The lighting was formerly produced by greasy arañas with sputtering tallow candles, whereas now there are fine oil lamps-though they do sometimes drip.

In El Correo (October 26, 1829) a lady complains that those in front of her in the cazuela, especially on the first row, sit upon far too many pillows and cushions, and that they further obstruct her view by wearing "peinetas como parapetos." A gentleman writing to the same paper a few days later protests that the enormous guarda-voz of the prompter keeps him from seeing the feet (he mentions only the feet) of the dancers.

There were no numbers on the seats; a letter to El Correo (March 19, 1830) objects to the lack of them, and also wishes to know why a spectator can not occupy any vacant seat, "como en los teatros extranjeros."

A gentleman writing to the same paper (January 21, 1829) suggests that there should be a poster in the lobby giving the name of the play being shown. This would have been all the more useful because the theaters did not always put on the play they advertised.29 A waggish gentleman (Revista Española, January 11, 1836)

27 Esc. mat., pp. 263–264.

28 El amante corto de vista, in Pan. mat., p. 132.

29 Larra, ed. Garnier, Vol. II, p. 283.

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