Spanish puppeteer active in the last decade of the 19th and the early 20th century. Alfredo Narbón’s company, Fantoches Españoles, was composed of twenty-one artists and perhaps three hundred luxuriously dressed large puppets of carved wood and glue paste. Narbón’s manipulation exhibited highly precise technique and very natural and graceful movements. The company’s performances were also distinguished by extensive lighting and sets designed by the Catalans, Miguel Moragas and Félix Urgellés. Among the company’s innovations was the presentation of entire three or four-act comedies and highly complex and mechanized shows that required a new form of organization. Narbón’s performances sought to surprise and entertain the public.
His repertoire included magic shows, big stage shows, zarzuelas, comic skits, grotesque dances and many other works designed specifically for puppets by José Mazo. Among the most magical and fantastical comedies are El aventurero o la Maga Alcina (The Adventurer or The Sorceress, Alcina), La herencia del diablo (The Devil’s Legacy), Marta la hechicera (Marta, the Witch), Aventuras de Tembleque (Tembleque’s Adventures), Las astucias de Luzbel (Luzbel’s Tricks), El esclavo de Constantinopla (The Slave from Constantinople) and Barba azul, barba roja, y barba gris (Bluebeard, Redbeard, and Greybeard). Among the zarzuelas worth mentioning are Los aparecidos (The Ghosts), La taza de té (The Teacup) and La corte de Faraón (The Pharaoh’s Court). Included in the historical category are La conquista de Argel (The Conquest of Argel) and La guerra franco-prusiana (The Franco-Prussian War), as well as parodies of literary works such as El audaz Don Juan Tenorio (The Daring Don Juan Tenorio) and Don Quijote de la Mancha.
The staging was elaborate and included ingenious special effects. Examples include the dramatic effect produced by the parade of troops, the cavalry’s steps, the view of the harbour, and the bombing of the city in La conquista de Argel. Likewise, in Barba azul, barba roja, y barba gris, a bullfight in Cádiz’s arena.