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Festival de Jerez: Melchora Ortega / Jesús Carmona

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013. Jerez de la Frontera
March 6, 2013
Text: Estela Zatania
Photos: Ana Palma

Special 17th Festival de Jerez - All the information

Tuesday was a quiet rainy day at the Festival de Jerez.  Last night there was no show at the Villamarta, but we were able to attend two very interesting performances at two other venues.

Melchora Ortega
Palacio de Villavicencio. 7.00pm

If the historic municipal market of La Unión (Murcia) is known as the “cathedral of cante”, it could well be said that the intimate space of the Palacio Villavicencio of Jerez is the chapel.  Each year this is the place reserved for acoustic recitals, that is, without amplification, by singers from a wide variety of tendencies.  It could almost be divorced from the main event and become the cante festival that Jerez deserves and has never had.

Melchora Ortega

Over the last few days we’ve seen a wide range of singers and guitarists.  Last night it was the turn of the beautiful Jerez singer Melchora Ortega.  At seven o’clock sharp, from the door that leads into the quiet room, she entered singing tonás, walking slowly, wrapped in a large shawl and filling the air with the sweet sound of her voice.  She opened with an assortment of tangos accompanied by guitarist Juani de la Isla who surprised us all with his capacity and a prodigious thumb, and the palmas of Diego Montoya and Miguel Cantarote.  Next, Melchora explored the possibilities por soleá with a wide range of styles, showing what a studious flamenco-lover she is.  There were some good moments in the siguiriyas, and fandangos in the crispy tone of ‘A’ (por medio) on the fifth fret triggered cheering.

The lady put the enormous shawl to one side in order to channel all her energy into bulerías with dance included, and that was the recital, short but complete.



Sala Compañía, 9.00pm

Dance and choreography: Jesús Carmona, Lucía Campillo, Esther Esteban. Cante: Jesús Corbacho, José y Maka Ibañez (Makarines). Guitar: Óscar Lago. Violin: Thomas Potiron. Percussion: Kike Terrón. Music: Paco Cruz, Daniel Jurado, José Ibañez.

At the Sala Compañía we’re accustomed to seeing relatively simple works carried out with limited resources and a lack of grand objectives.  Last night however, “Cuna Negra y Blanca”, which debuted at the last Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla, could easily have been presented convincingly at any major theater.

Jesús Carmona

It’s a work that has everything: the off-stage voice and mysterious sounds at the beginning, a conceptual libretto, designer lighting, a cast of nine highly capable interpreters and most surprising of all…an intermission between the first and second parts, something even more consolidated groups eschew.

Young Catalonian Jesús Carmona, lead dancer and choreographer, won the top prize in dance at the last contest of La Unión in 2012.  He uses the same black aesthetic you see in nearly all companies now, but it’s relieved in the second half with a white one, and it’s quite a treat to be able to see the dancers’ movements without straining.  There are other original touches, both choreographic and theatrical, in addition to the singing of Jesús Corbacho and the silky choruses of the Makarines that give a contemporary feel.

The ambitious 90-minute work includes fandangos de Huelva, taranto, soleá, tangos and bulerías-romance in addition to some more fanciful pieces.  The female dancer makes good use of a large shawl, an accessory that is quickly regaining popularity after years of neglect, and for this we can thank two ladies, dancers Blanca del Rey and Milagros Mengíbar.