Jupiter and Danae - Júpiter y Danae

Jupiter y Danae is a zarzuela based on the Greek myth of Danae by the composer Antonio de Literes . The zarzuela was a lyrical genre that emerged in Spain during the Baroque period (not to be confused with the genre of the same name that appeared in the 19th century); in it sung and declaimed fragments alternated. Their arguments were often based on Greco-Roman myths. Literes was an instrumentalist and composer, related to the Royal Chapel, who worked in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. From his inspiration came works such as Jupiter and Danae, considered his first zarzuela, or the most famous Acis and Galatea.

The handwritten score is kept in the National Library of Spain. It includes fragments in recitative, duets, triplets and choruses, of which the last one stands out, a song of glorification to the kings of Spain at that time. As for the author of the libretto, his name is unknown to us so far. The work is structured in three days plus a dance.

A recording of this work was made in 1999. Published by the Blau CD 190 label, it contains the version of the Capella de Ministrers directed by Carles Magraner. In the main roles the baritone Carlos López-Galarza (Jupiter) and the soprano Olga Pitarch (Danae) sang. The texts that accompany the recording, of high musicological value, were written by José Máximo Leza.


Jupiter - Countertenor (baritone in current versions)
Danae - Soprano
Cupid - Soprano


The zarzuela of this title, of which the name of the author of the libretto is unknown, is based on the myth of Danae. Acrisius, king of Argos and father of Danae, consulted the oracle to find out if he would have male heirs. The oracle predicted that he would be killed by Danae's son, so he locks his daughter in a cell. Zeus, in love with the young woman, falls on the tower in the form of a golden shower, leaving Danae pregnant.

It is structured in three days (a unit that is equivalent to one act), which makes it an example of a larger size than usual in this type of work. Among their numbers we find recitatives (part in which the action takes place), duets between Jupiter and Danae; triplets with the intervention of Cupid; Strophic verses for soloists and some choirs, among which the initial one (four voices) and the choir of the last number collected in the zarzuela stand out where a praise is made to the kings of Spain, Carlos II and Mariana de Neoburgo, who ruled at that time. This shows the relationship of the zarzuela genre with royalty and aristocracy, the main recipients, while being an artifice of the composer to protect his career. The score closes with dance music divided into three sections,

The orchestral template is distributed in violins, bow violas, basso continuo and flutes, these in prime moments, like when Danae sings about a bird and the composer wants to imitate the sound of the bird.

A handwritten score is preserved in the National Library of Spain. It is dated approximately in 1700; collects the three days that make up zarzuela and dance


1. BOMBI, Andrea: “Antonio Literes”, in Sketches of Spanish composers , No. 34. Online digital version, Fundación March [accessed May 14, 2015]

2. HILL, John Walter: Baroque music . Akal Music, 2008.

3. LITERES, Antonio: Jupiter and Danae . Handwritten score . 1700? National Library of Spain.

4. ORTEGA, Leonor: “The mythical component in the baroque zarzuela”, in Isla de Arriarán , XIV, 1999, pp. 489-495.

5. MARTÍN MORENO, Antonio: History of Spanish music. 18th century . Madrid. Music Alliance, 1996

6. LEZA, José Máximo: The 18th century. History of music in Spain and Latin America . Madrid. FCE, 2014.