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Mariana Cornejo, Encarna Anillo 'De mi tierra' Cádiz'. Teatro Falla, Flamenco Viene del Sur

April 8, 2010


Mariana Cornejo, Encarna Anillo “De mi tierra…Cádiz”

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010. 9:00pm. Gran Teatro Falla, Cádiz

Text: Estela Zatania

In the world of flamenco, everyone is guilty of local chauvinism, or at least people defend the sort of cante they consider “their own”, a slippery concept which often merely refers to what we listened to when we were young.  But if any place has the right to wave its own flag, although a bit tattered, it’s the ancient city of Cádiz.  Since the times of Planeta, right up to the present, passing through Mellizo and Aurelio, it is not possible to understand the history of flamenco without the contribution of Cádiz, both in the festive forms and in the more serious ones.

Within the lengthy series of recitales “Flamenco Viene del Sur” organized by the Agencia Andaluza para el Desarrollo del Flamenco, and which this year is reaching each of Andalusia’s eight provinces, there was room for the discreet recital titled “De mi Tierra…Cádiz”.  Since the days of the above-mentioned pivotal figures, the ambience and number of interpreters have dwindled considerably, not only in Cádiz, but everywhere.  Last night the cante of Cádiz was represented by two women from two different generations: Encarna Anillo (1983) and Mariana Cornejo (1947).  It would have been nice to include Carmen de la Jara to bridge the generational gap, but budgets have also dwindled.

Localism aside, what could have been two ways of approaching Cádiz cante ended up being something more far-reaching: nothing less than two ways of understanding and interpreting flamenco.  In fact, the show “De mi Tierra…Cádiz” could serve as a condensed instantaneous orientation for ethnomusicologists wishing to understand the evolution of cante over the last 50 years.

At the Gran Teatro Falla, which has seen better days but continues to have a certain feeling of grandeur, with two thirds of the seats filled, mostly by middle-aged couples, the lights dimmed and a lyrical guitar introduction sounded.  Soon, Encarna Anillo appeared, dressed in the style of Frida Kahlo, walking with a heavy gait that suggested melancholy, to sing a milonga with duly associated sweetness.  Her barely whispered voice is well-suited to these melismatic cantes so appreciated in Cádiz, and which no longer endure such a bad press from flamenco fans in general.

Popular songs to the compás of alegrías, with dark brooding lighting for such a luminous form, are supported by the palmas of Diego Montoya and Tate Núñez, and the excellent young guitarists Juan Requena and Andrés Hernández “Pituquete”.  The audience springs to life when classic cante is briefly inserted, and politely tolerates the pop sections – an interesting reading of local taste.  The mixing of cante and pop also gives us the opportunity to compare the energy of traditional forms with the laid-back feeling of contemporary ones.

Solea, and if my eyes don’t deceive me from the 14th row, it looks like the capo is on 8, where the guitarist has little wiggle space, but the instrument sounds very flamenco.  Encarna decides to ignore the classic styles of Cádiz, preferring a geographically diverse repertoire.  Stylized malagueñas are ended with abandolao, and the singer closes her performance with a long set of bulerías, again avoiding the cante of her hometown, unless you count a cuplé popularized by Juan Villar.

The second part of the evening brought all the expansive personality and sparkle of the grande dame of Cádiz cante, Mariana Cornejo.  Although not that old, she is a delightful relic from the days of Chano, Beni, Pericón and Manolo Vargas.  Not only her singing, but her way of being, the artful swagger, the repertoire, the way she travels through the compás and relates to the audience.  The guitars of Antonio Carrión and Fernando Moreno set the perfect mood for this cante that was not learned from recordings.  They accompany an assortment of cantiñas combining C in the 6th position (Carrión) with E in the second (Moreno), giving a full warm resonance.
And Mariana!  Full of life, beautiful, elegant, sincere and natural, with cante that is all flavor and compás.  She does siguiriyas and manages to raise a lot of gooseflesh, simultaneously demonstrating that yes, women manage this form quite well.  Following this, some down-home Cádiz bulerías, and the atmosphere in the theater is charged with excitement when Mariana serves up the classic cuplé she dominates so well, with no need for  histrionics.  “Rhythmic soleá” jokes the niece of Canalejas, and it’s a mixture of bulería por soleá with soleá of Cádiz and Juaniquí done at an upbeat tempo and closed with the classic Jerez ending of Niño Gloria.

More bulerías, now Jerez-style with the occasional nod to la Perla, a wink to Villar (Juan, flamenco fans beg you to assume your rightful position as patriarch) and the signature “Si tu me dices ven”, before a brief fiesta finale in which Encarna sings for Mariana’s dancing.