María Toledo /
Text: Pablo San Nicasio
“Del origen a la Unión”. Cante: María Toledo. Guitar: Jesús de Rosario. Percussion: Lucky Losada. Double bass: Yelsi Heredia. Violin. David Moreira
Flamenco for today
The theater of the Abadía is an odd space, with a personality of its own. A new venue for flamenco fans in this Suma festival that still has plenty of steam.
On Saturday night two women from two generations who have been a part of the evolution of flamenco. Vanilla and chocolate were the flavors of their respective offerings, and in the end, even the most reluctant were licking their lips.
María Rodríguez del Álamo, María Toledo for flamenco fans, is one of the old stand-bys of the Suma Festival. Radiantly youthful, with a variety of vocal styles, eclectic; for the orthodox flamenco follower she could be a target of criticism. Although in fact it would be unwise to simplify the question like that, because from this woman’s head come elements we can all make use of. No matter how much we may love tradition.
In last night’s show flamenco took precedence over flamenco-tinged pop, with abundant instrumentals to back up her voice with its perhaps excessive roughness. Gypsyfied within the possibilities of a non-gypsy, but in the end, quite personal.
She began with intensity, with siguiriyas and tangos taken at a clip. A wide variety of styles, heavy on Pastora Pavón. Up to here, it was quality flamenco with a taste for gesturing and flirting with the audience, but managing not to overdo. And all the while, the extraordinary instrumental group kept its place.
It’s when she sits down at the piano that María Toledo turns her identity inside-out and shows her true personality, her quest for a place of her own in the world of flamenco, and it’s here her shows take on a kind of power that can go a long way. For now, she has her own bunch of fans who follow her around beyond the important performances, which is already saying a lot.
Constantly dialoguing with the audience, María recalled her childhood when Lole, sharing the stage in the second half, got it all together. Herself, and other women, Pastora, Paquera…you could read her flamenco thoughts and intent.
In between there were more superficial moments, but never frivolous. “María la Portuguesa”…”Imprudencias” that might not have looked good on paper, but where the resourceful María Toledo continued to put on a good show. She and her entourage, with Yelsi Heredia and David Moreira doing a find job overall.
With Morente’s “Estrella”, the exuberant singer wrapped it all up, and her possibilities within this difficult world became clear.
Lole Montoya came on for the second part to recall past triumphs in a much more sober fashion than her fan María Toledo, and put us in our place. Those verses she half sings, half recites with a depth only she is capable of, and with a flamenco predisposition that isn’t something we’re discovering after all these years.
Her interesting guitars color the sound first with sweetness, and finally with a superb Jerez feeling for a recital of short pieces, and a certain decline when the poetry takes on an incessant preachy tone.
The end of the show was the two women recreating the legendary song “Todo es de Color”. Both women of their times and of today, flamenco without hang-ups and improvised to bridge two eras that were, and continue to be of changes.