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Always an almost defiantly idiosyncratic form of Spanish music theater, in the 19th century zarzuela was avowedly nationalis- tic and populist, in explicit contrast to the Italian opera favored by the aristocracy and upper classes. The género chico sub- genre of one-act works that dominated Spanish theaters in the last quarter of the 19th century exuberantly explored and appropriated everything from rural village customs to urban slice-of-life street scenes.

Probably the most popular of all instru- mental zarzuela excerpts is the zesty Inter- medio from La boda de Luis Alonso (1897), a medley of several traditional dances. (One of the themes is a seguidilla that Falla also used in El sombrero de tres picos.) Also an esteemed conductor, as a com- poser Jerónimo Giménez specialized in the género chico, including El baile de Luis Alonso and its prequel, La boda de Luis Alonso. The title character was a historical dancing master from Cádiz, where both of those works take place. Their token plots are simply vehicles for lots of dancing.

— John Henken