MORENTE EN CONCIERTO: Cante: Estrella Morente. Guitar: “Montoyita” and “Monty”. Chorus and palmas: Antonio Carbonell, Ángel Gabarre and “Kiki” Morente. Percussion: Popo
Estrella means star
Text: Pablo San Nicasio Ramos
How hard it is to keep going when someone important to you is missing. Especially for this woman, but for the rest of us as well. “Morente en Concierto” opened the 2011 edition of the Suma festival where you could still feel that flamenco is affected, trembling, looking to one side to see if anyone else is waiting in the wings. Or wondering just what will happen now without the patriarch of the Morente family. Which, all things considered, is like saying the patriarch of flamenco. Because it’s clear the Granada singer marks a before and after. And you can still feel his presence…but it’s not the same. No way.
His first-born is now facing a difficult challenge: to accept being sole heiress to the cante of her lineage, or follow in her own line, with only tangential references to the main source of her knowledge. Both options are difficult ones, because no matter which she chooses, the comparisons with Enrique Morente will always be inevitable.
First of all, we wish Estrella the best of luck, because her ability and achievements are admirable, and the support of flamenco fans is very great. You might say she has a lucky “estrella”. Hordes of theater-goers had bought up all the tickets days earlier to enjoy the singing of a woman who did not let them down.
Dressed like a cross between a fairy princess and opera diva, she appeared on stage with her typical panache, solemnly reciting in old Spanish, verses which, like most everything else throughout the evening, seemed taken from the Morente legacy, and from his eternal questing. Out of a typical Sacromonte abandolao, came the granaína, bringing us to the four singing highpoints of the night, the cante Estrella cooked up and served with the sole accompaniment of a guitar: Tangos de la Vida, which the singer’s father was using right up to the end to close his concerts, taranta y taranto in a hopeful vein to ward off possible tears (which were also present), a very slow soleá (this reminded me of the soleá sung by Enrique two years ago with Juan Carmona junior in honor of Miguel Candela, with whom he’ll be facing-off with a game of dominos) and, above all, a siguiriya that raised goosebumps.
Drama was in the air from the first moment, the moving nature of the message, verse included, and a surprising closing to the compás of habanera like a sort of personal siguiriyas ending. Estrella made the biggest impression of all making history with a verse we already knew, rehumanizing the cante, no mechanical interpretation, which is what separates work-a-day singers from great artists. It was the flamenco highpoint of the evening, without any doubt.
Guitarist Montoyita, whose importance within the clan is growing, put order dividing the evening in half with his rondeña, more moving than original or luminous. Important throughout the evening, the guitarist’s son came off especially well, with a profound flamenco sound and the clear intention of harking back to great Granada artists who defined an era.
Returning to the stage with the complete group, Estrella did honor to her name with a cross between Spanish folk and rock. The captivating performer who takes charge of the stage and knows how to push all the buttons, and then the heterodox artist who interpreted her versions of caña, colombiana and all those cantes her father sorted out like a genome to clearly identify what kind of flamenco pertains to our time.
The dramatic ending was without music, a torrent of vocal power as we had not previously seen in this theater, premonitory and gut-wrenching por tonás: the absence of “daddy” and the care with which she proceeds now that he’s no longer controlling things from the wings. But Estrella has nothing to worry about, because she will never be alone.
Apoteosis final a palo seco, con derroche de potencia vocal como no habíamos visto en este teatro y un desgarro que es toda una premonición por toná: la ausencia del “papaíco del alma” y los cristales sobre los que pisa ahora que no está vigilante. Pero que esté tranquila, porque esta Estrella no estará nunca sola.