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Lorca’s play Mariana Pineda was first performed in Barcelona on 24th June 1927 and represented Lorca’s breakthrough as a dramatist. Dated 8 January 1925, he had given a first reading of the work at which his friend José Mora Guarnido, who left Spain at the end of 1923, had been present. In 1923 Lorca had written to Antonio Gallego Burín asking for historical background information. he specifically asked for guidance with reference to Pedrosa and asked where he could read up on the Granada of that period. But his main interest, he makes clear, will be the character Mariana and the storyline, which are not intended to be historically accurate but of his own invention. In September 1923 Lorca writes to Melchor Fernández Almagro about “this women who has wandered through the secret passages of my childhood with her unmistakable aura”. “If I am afraid of writing this play,” he says, “it is because I am afraid of obscuring my most delicate memories of that fair young widow and martyr, that Juliet without a Romeo.”
It took Lorca some time before he could find anyone willing to put on the play. The playwright and producer Gregorio Martínez Sierra wrote to José Mora in 1925 or 1926: “It isn’t but it appears to be a pamphlet against the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera”. Primo de Rivera took power on 23 September 1923, by which time the play had already taken shape. Anyway Lorca was adamant: “This work is not, as Fernando de los Ríos would like it to be, in any way political. It is a pure work of art, a tragedy of my own invention, with no political intention, and I want its success to be a poetic success."
After the play’s success in Barcelona, in October 1927, Lorca explained how he had been attracted to the topic which was still a living tradition in the Granada of his day. From his earliest childhood it had been present in the form of romances and narrations. It was not the exact historical version but the legend, delightfully distorted by the popular storytellers, that he chose.
The play came to Granada on 7 May 1929 after its success in Barcelona and Madrid. It was performed in the Teatro Cervantes. On this occasion Lorca said: “It causes me true sadness to see my name on every street corner. It is as if my childhood were being taken away from me. I find myself full of responsibility in the one place I don’t want it. In Granada I just long for the peace and quiet of my home, enjoying the rest and preparing for my next work. Let my name be known in other parts, Granada has contributed enough in giving me its light and its topics and in opening to me the vein of its lyric secret.” He concluded: “If someday I achieve glory, half of this glory will belong to Granada which shaped and modelled this creature that I am : a poet by birth rather than by choice.”
Plaza Mariana Pineda today.
MARIANA PINEDA: BIOGRAPHY
Mariana Pineda was born on 1 September 1804 and baptised at the Church of Santa Ana in Plaza Nueva. In the same church she was married at the age of 15. At 18 she was widowed and left with two children, a boy and a girl. Some time later she had another son, but she never remarried.
At this time Granada was suffering severely under the harsh monarchist repression directed at the liberal bourgeois. Ramón Pedrosa y Andrade was the man directly responsible for her death and according to the “vox populi” his approaches to the beautiful heroine had been ejected with disdain.
In 1828 two of Mariana’s relatives were in prison for political motives, an uncle and her cousin, Fernando Alvarez de Sotomayor. She helped him escape from prison and kept him hidden in her house until he could escape from Granada. Again, according to the popular version of events, it was her love for Fernando that motivated her heroic deeds.
Pedrosa managed to find out that Mariana had ordered a flag to be made , embroidered with the words “Equality, Liberty, Law”. Pedrosa ordered the embroiderers to return the flag unfinished. Then he ordered a search of Mariana’s house. On finding the flag, Mariana was taken to the prison for “fallen women” in Recogidas. She is supposed to have said to Pedrosa: “You forget, that for me to die, the whole of Granada would have to die. For I am noble, and the noblest gentlemen will come and rescue me.” Nobody came.
On 24 May 1831 she was transferred to the city prison and on the 26th she was executed. She was buried in a nearby cemetery but it was 20 years before her remains were finally laid to rest when the city council of the day the haven and the decorum due to her.
In 1856 her remains were transferred to the cathedral in a funeral wagon constructed especially for the occasion. There she has remained ever since. In 1931 with the Republic recently proclaimed her centenery was celebrated in grand style.