Text and photos: Estela Zatania
September 1-3, 2016. 10:00pm. Alameda Vieja, Jerez de la Frontera
Rebirth of the Fiesta de la Bulería
After nearly a half-century since that first Fiesta de la Bulería, and numerous attempts at redesigning this famous Jerez event scheduled within the Fiestas de la Vendimia, it has once again been reinvented. And judging from the audience reaction, it seems the mega-happening, dedicated on this occasion to the memory of Lola Flores, was a success.
A new venue: the Alameda Vieja, an open space next to the Alcázar, actually “in the street”, a lovely historic setting for the venerable event which in recent years, for whatever reason, did not quite come together. But the biggest modification was in the format and length. A program of three themed days: first day, young artists, second day, dynasties of singers, and third day, veterans and consolidated artists. Classic flamenco at every moment, but with a great diversity of perspectives. It wasn't all of Jerez by any means, but a valid sampler of the city's flamenco personality, and that of its cousins, Lebrija, Utrera and Mairena. According to the program, a total of 73 artists; you don't see that too often in these times of economic crisis, and with very reasonable ticket prices.
Between the three days, there were more than 12 hours of performances, something that would have been impossible with the original format of one day. As you would expect, everything began and ended with a strong gust of compás. And between the opening and final fiestas, there were surprises, high emotion, and above all, the sincere desire of all the interpreters to give their very best.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1st
Jerez Joven “Suena Jerez”. Cante: María de Terremoto, Rafael del Zambo, Tomasa Santiago, Enrique de Remache, Rosario Fanegas, Manuel de la Nina, Sandra Zarzana, Maloko, Estefanía Zarzana, Manuel Moneo. Dance: Gema Moneo, Fernando Jiménez. Guitar: Pepe del Morao, Fernando Carrasco, Curro Carrasco. Violin: Bernardo Parrilla. Music director: Pepe del Morao
It would be impossible to comment on all the performances. Noteworthy, the first day, devoted to young artists, the impeccable direction of Pepe del Morao who managed to stage a carefully organized fiesta without sacrificing spontaneity. A beautiful duet with Estefanía Zarzana and Enrique de Remache was able to raise goose-bumps without being cloying. María Terremoto, who continues to quickly move forward, sang with energy, intelligence and impressive self-confidence. Dancer Gema Moneo searched within herself, and found what she was looking for, outdoing her recent appearance in the Viernes Flamenco. Overall, this first day offered fresh, contemporary flamenco with no dubious contrivances. This generation guarantees flamenco for some time to come. Quite another problem is the shrinking demand for this type of product that some of us enjoy so much.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2nd
The flamenco singing dynasties of Mairena, Lebrija, Utrera y Jerez. “LA CASA DE LOS MAIRENAS”. Cante: Antonio Ortega, Manuel Cástulo, Paco Morillo. Guitar: Antonio Carrión. Music and artistic director: Antonio Reyes, Antonio Carrión. Production: Alberto Mats. “LEBRIJA, FAMILIA MALENA”. Cante: Isabel Carrasco, Luis Carrasco, Curro Vargas. Guitar: Antonio Malena, Luis Carrasco, Malena Chico. Dance: Zaida Vargas, Paula Vargas. Palmas: José Vargas “Kilito”, José Carrasco. Coordinator/Director: José Vargas “Kilito”. “DE UTRERA SOMOS”. Cante: Tomas de Perrate, Delia Peña, Manolito de Angustias, Luis del Marquesito, Encarni Jiménez. Dance: Sofía Suárez, Agui Arenas. Guitar: Pitín Hijo. Palmas: Gaspar de la Teresa. “LA CASA DE LOS AGUJETAS”. Cante: Dolores, Antonio, Tomás Agujetas. Guitar: Domingo Rubichi, Manuel Parrilla. Palmas: José Rubichi, José Peña.
The second day, devoted to flamenco families, gave us the opportunity to compare the particular aromas of other towns. Mairena, dignity and aplomb, with an outstanding Manuel Cástulo who had words for in remembrance of José Menese. From Lebrija, after a brief audiovisual presentation, relatives of Curro Malena, brother and sister, a son, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, laid out a way of understanding flamenco, colored with their elders' experiences as field-workers during the lean postwar years: soleá, alegrías romanceadas, siguiriyas, soleá por bulería and fandangos “del Chocolate”. Utrera came to put all their cards on the table, and left the audience standing and cheering the singing of Tomás de Perrate, the Bambino-style songs of Manuel de Angustias, the way these people have with “cuplé” and the singing and subtle dancing of Luis de Marquesito. Following them, the Jerez family of Agujetas was represented with a generous dose of singing from Dolores and Antonio, as well as Tomás Rubichi: bulería pa' escuchar, cantiñas, siguiriyas and fandangos.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3rd
“Homenaje a Lola Flores” CUADRO FLAMENCO “ARTE AÑEJO”. Diego Vargas, Paco Gasolina, Benito Peña, Pepe de Joaquina, Mateo Soleá, Rosario “La Melchora”. Dance: Tía Yoya, Tía Currita, Antonio Flores. Guitar: El Carbonero, Antonio Jero. DAVID LAGOS Y MELCHORA ORTEGA. Guitar: Juan Riquena, Santiago Lara. Percusión: Perico Navarro. Palmas: Diego Montoya, Javier Peña. EL BAILE DE MERCEDES RUIZ. Cante: David Carpio. Guitar: Santiago Lara. Perussión: Perico Navarro. Palmas: Javier Peña, Manuel Salado. JESÚS MÉNDEZ. Guitar: Diego del Morao. Palmas: Manuel Salado, Diego Montoya.
The third and last day, it was time for the veterans and consolidated artists of Jerez. The group “Arte Añejo”, brought the aroma of traditional taverns and raw voices such as those of Paco Gasolina and Mateo Soleá, as well as the typical bulería dancing. David Lagos, holder of the Lámpara Minera, with Juan Requena on guitar, managed to charm the varied audience with his original arrangements of forms nearly in disuse: caña, marianas, cantiñas with alegrías, bulerías and a retro rumba in collaboration with Melchora Ortega in honor of Lola Flores. Melchora also offered her mini recital of flamenco singing with the guitar of Santiago Lara.
And there was still a second part with the dancing of Mercedes Ruiz por alegrías and soleá de Triana, with the fine singing of David Carpio. And topping up this already lengthy 49th Fiesta de la Bulería, was the singing recital of Jesús Méndez with Diego del Morao, the two young leaders of Jerez flamenco.
Three end-of-summer balmy evenings of high-quality flamenco: the great Lola Flores would have been delighted. And nothing left to do except look forward to next year's 50th celebration of the Fiesta de la Bulería.