Love Conquers All: Cupid, Philip V, and the Allegorical Zarzuela during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–16)

Author: Acuña, Maria Virginia.

Publication details: "Love Conquers All: Cupid, Philip V, and the Allegorical Zarzuela during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–16)." Eighteenth Century Music 15, no. 1 (2018): 29-45.

Weblink: https://www.cambridge.org

Abstract: An unprecedented shift in the portrayal of Cupid took place in the Spanish mythological zarzuela during the years surrounding the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714). For the first time ever, Cupid was depicted not as a god of chaste or erotic love, but as a god at war with other deities. And in every work, a female actor-singer, not a male performer, played the fiery but mournful character. In this article I first explore the cultural understanding of Cupid in early eighteenth-century Spain as articulated by Spanish mythographers of the era, and as seen in the earliest representations of Cupid in Spanish theatre. I then investigate the intersection of myth, allegory, war and music theatre in a case study – the zarzuela Las nuevas armas de amor (Love's New Weapons, 1711) – suggesting that in this work Cupid functioned as an allegorical representation of the Spanish king, and that the deity's struggles for power mirrored the monarch's plight during a time of great political instability. Moreover, I argue that the pre-existing local theatrical practice of cross-dressing allowed for the portrayal of a defeated and sobbing Cupid in the zarzuela.