Text: Estela Zatania
Photos: Ana Palma
21 FESTIVAL DE JEREZ
Sunday, February 26th, 2017. Sala Paúl, Jerez de la Frontera
A HAPPENING IN JEREZ
Melchora Ortega with David Lagos, cante. Isabel Bayón, dance. Santiago Lara, guitar. Alejandro Rojas Marcos, piano. Diego Villegas, wind instruments. Antonio Corrales, upright bass. Pedro Navarro, percussion. Rocío Soto and Fernando Galán, palmas. Script and stage direction: Francisco López. Music coordination and production: David Lagos.
Photo gallery (by Ana Palma)
Refreshing, odd, humorous, beautiful, confusing, mysterious, surprising, delightful… The show “Melchora Ortega presenta a la Memole y su Combo Flamenco en Por los Pelos” (that’s the title…just like that), above all else, is different. A monument to the creativity and independent spirit of David Lagos who coordinated the music, the nostalgia of stage director and script-writer Francisco López for the cabaret ambience we’ve seen in other work of his, and the multitalented Melchora Ortega. Free-thinking, creative artists, with no preconceptions or prejudices.
Gentle fun is poked at kitschy flamenco that could well have represented Melchora Ortega’s formative years. “A work with autobiographical overtones” said the press release, and we see the artist in a variety of registers and situations: steamy cabaret singer, flamenco singer, beloved wife to whom husband David Lagos sings the popular “Limosna de Amores”… A wealth of musical genres, the soundtrack of Spanish popular music of the last fifty years, with no hang-ups, and abundant references to Lola Flores in this year 2017 that has been designated the year of “La Faraona” as she was called, such as the rap style tanguillo the famous Jerez singer popularized. Melchora is a show-woman for any and all occasions, she revels in clichés, recycling them with intelligence so they have a new lease on life.
Isabel Bayón is wonderful in a way we’ve seldom seen her in her own shows, perhaps because this time she didn’t feel so much pressure, and let herself go as an extravagant emcee, or singing piano-bar style, dancing a cheesy pasodoble or suddenly, por soleá de Triana sung by David.
And I don’t know if “por los pelos”, (roughly, “by a hair’s breadth”) which is part of the work’s long title, is a reference to Melchora’s abundant curly hair, but it’s possible, as there are moments towards the end when the lady’s unruly mane upstages everything else.
The bottom line is completely positive, a flamenco happening and a happy addition to a program which is at times overly cerebral.