The two-act zarzuela Marina
was premiered on September 21 1855 at Madrid's Teatro Circo. Despite a cool initial reception, many musicians could sense its popular potential. Gaztambide wrote to the poet López de Ayala:
'Emilio's new zarzuela Marina is most outstanding; a true Spanish Opera sure to please the crowd; it will, I'm sure, be much liked'.
Indeed it was, and when the tenor Enrico Tamberlick expressed a wish to play Jorge at the Teatro Real, Arrieta had no hesitation in agreeing to expand it into the through-written, 3-act form familiar today.