Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Women don't sweat....

The building is an old Victorian indoor market - all cast iron columns and glass ceiling. The air conditioning was going full blast producing a background growl but if the aircon was at full tilt the hand held fans were going faster. Those fans make a distinctive sound as they furl, unfurl and flap and that sound was everywhere. The seats were relatively hard and relatively uncomfortable so there was a fair bit of shuffling. At least twenty official photographers wearing orange ribboned passes kept moving around crouching down like John Ford Indians dancing around the tribal fire with their tomahawks. Despite the fanning, despite the cooling system and despite the shuffling we all glistened.

On stage Estrella Morente was belting out flamenco songs. The name never goes without mention of her late great dad, Enrique Morente who went into a coma after an ulcer operation and died in 2010. She was there to sing in, and we were there to watch, a part of one of the most prestigious flamenco events of the year. It isn't held in the ancestral home of flamenco down in Andalucia nor in one of the big cities. The Cante de las Minas is held in the very ordinary, bordering on ugly, Murcian town of La Unión. I lived in La Union for about ten months so I can have an opinion.

I've mentioned this competition before so no extra details here but it was extra interesting this time. I like this event so I have a predisposition to go. I hadn't read the tickets or the advertising bumph very carefully. It said Estrella Morente and that was enough for me. I've heard her on the radio a few times and she had a song I liked in the Almadóvar film Volver - though it was Penélope Cruz who mouthed the song in the movie. Basically then I had no idea what I was going to see. I sort of expected crossover stuff - proper flamenco breezed up a bit. Like the stuff you get in almost any flamenco show in Spain but a lot classier. It wan't. To my untrained ear it sounded like a variation on the real stuff that the fat men in overtight suits wail out.

Maggie had arrived in Alicante airport from the UK at about a quarter past nine. The concert was at eleven and about 120 kilometres away so it was a bit of a dash. It was only when a woman in a long frock welcomed us to the concert that we realised the second half was going to be el Amor Brujo (the bewitched Love) by Manuel de Falla performed by the orchestra from a local private university. Originally the conductor was going to be Roque Baños, who is quite a famous writer of film scores, a chap who comes from Jumilla just down the road from us in Culebrón, but in the end Roque was doing something more important. I checked my tickets and yes it was all there. Clearly.

I don't care for Falla. I've tried honest. All that Three Cornered Hat and Nights in the Gardens of Spain stuff. It doesn't work for me.

Anyway so there we are shuffling and sweating and a bit surprised that we were watching a bunch of young people on stage producing classical music with Estrella doing the singing parts.

As we filed out into the square it was still only a bit short of two in the morning so we stopped to get a drink and a snack and we talked about the concert. We always talk about the things we go to see of course but usually it's a shortish conversation and this time it was much longer. I strongly suspect that it's not a concert we will forget easily.

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