Out of the Wings

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Luciano Francisco Comella

Personal information
Surname: Comella
First name: Luciano Francisco
Born: 1751, Barcelona, Spain
Died: 1812

Luciano Comella is one of Spain’s most prolific playwrights of the early-modern period. Born in Barcelona in 1751, Comella began writing plays in his twenties and his work became very popular during his lifetime. Comella’s dramas reflect the public’s love at the time for zarzuelas, operettas, melodramas, and epic pieces featuring historical or mythical figures. Comella’s plays may have been popular with the public, but they often were criticised by his contemporaries, and by Leandro Fernández de Moratín in particular. In fact, Comella was clearly the main target of La comedia nueva o El café, in which Moratín satirised overly-melodramatic and badly-written plays. The criticism of Comella’s work is seen by some as unfair, although as tastes changed his plays were performed less frequently. Nonetheless, Comella is considered a significant figure of Spanish theatre, whose substantial body of work has much to say about the cultural tastes of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Spain.


Comella’s large body of work covers a number of themes. He wrote heroic military plays, exploring the nature of war and military honour. Other plays deal with the sentimental problems of the Spanish middle classes, containing themes such as the value of family, marriage and duty.


Comella wrote in a number of different styles throughout his literary career. Many of his plays are a mixture of spoken and sung verse, as he wrote zarzuelas and small operatic pieces. His plays were often filled with lively battle scenes and patriotic military parades, which were derided by neoclassicists such as Moratín. Although Comella did write a number of historical dramas, he is also considered to be one of the foremost dramatists writing comedias lacrimosas, sentimental, or ‘lachrymose’ comedies featuring bourgeois people struggling to overcome difficult circumstances. He set many of these plays in London.

Plays in the database

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 24 May 2011.

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