To˝y Rosado - click for larger photo (Gallery)Madrileña Bonita

Fifteen years on –
Toñy Rosado

Gerardo Fernández
San Emeterio

Toñy Rosado (Antonia Rosado Casas)
b. Madrid, 8 May 1923
d. Madrid, 11 April 1996

It’s already fifteen years since Toñy Rosado left us, on April 11th 1996 when the disease she’d been fighting won the battle, courageous and strong though she was.

It is truly difficult to evoke the personality of Toñy Rosado in a few words. Her personality and career have been neither written about nor recognized as they should have been, because – thanks to the many she recorded under the direction of Ataúlfo Argenta – the catalogues list her almost exclusively as an interpreter of zarzuela.

Of course Rosado’s performances in La verbena de la Paloma, Maruxa, El rey que rabió, La tempestad, La viejecita, El cabo primero and Bohemios are still exemplary, thanks to her understanding of the text and the musicality of her interpretation; and we should also remember her Aurora “la Beltrana” in the Doña Francisquita which José Tamayo directed for the reopening of Teatro de la Zarzuela in 1956, opposite the debutant Alfredo Kraus. She also made abundant zarzuela recordings for Spanish television.

It should be noted, though, that Toñy Rosado’s repertoire ranged from Monteverdi (the Vespers played during Cuenca’s Religious Music Week under Odón Alonso) to Mortari (whose Stabat Mater was likewise first performed in Cuenca, with María Orán); and that her knowledge of German, French and English allowed her to take on repertoire so little known in 1950’s Spain as Gustav Mahler (whose songs she introduced here, accompanied by Felix Lavilla); Richard Strauss (as the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier at the Liceo); and Sephardic song, sung a capella in concert at Sinagoga del Tránsito in Toledo.

Tony RosadoThen there were operas such as Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (as Cherubino with Victoria de los Ángeles in Madrid, after which they remained close friends); and the major parts of the Italian and French operatic repertoire for spinto lyric soprano – Butterfly, Mimi, Santuzza (this latter opposite the likes of tenors Gigli and Di Stefano), the Manons of Massenet and Puccini, Amelia in Un ballo in maschera, Siebel in Gounod’s Faust, the title role in Thomas’s Mignon (sung with Cesare Siepi and Marimí del Pozo at the Liceo). Above all came Tosca, Aida and Carmen, roles she made especially her own; and one role from the Spanish repertoire which she sang throughout Europe, including the German premiere - Salud in La Vida Breve.

In the field of song Toñy Rosado was an exceptional interpreter of Spanish composers Falla, Granados, Turina and Toldrá – with the last of whom she was close friends; but also of the French and Germans, especially Faure, Schumann – and above all her beloved Brahms, the composer to whom she dedicated one of her final concerts when she was already a professor at Escuela Superior de Canto, and whose work was at the heart of what was to be her last public appearance, a Brahms recital by some of the School’s students.

Toñy Rosado taught singing from the foundation of that School until her retirement in 1988. Teaching highlighted two qualities of his personality: her dedication to the students and the confidence she reposed in them, a trust that encouraged them to overcome their fears and deal with the problems that came up. At the same time her wide knowledge of both the operatic and concert repertoire allowed them to get away from the usual routine pieces for singing exams. At the root lay that musicality. The love she poured into teaching and the confidence she transmitted to her student made her both a confidante and adviser for most of those who went through her classes.

As I talk about her relationship with her students, I’ve almost inadvertently entered into my own personal memories. Her serenity, grace and bearing are three things that are not easy to forget for anyone who encountered them. One image always comes to my mind: Toñy seated at the piano in her living room, retelling anecdotes most graciously, moving her hands like an enchanter, with that quiet voice always in the deeper registers; always happy and always willing to teach, even when circumstances were unfavourable – as certainly they sometimes were. This is how I like to evoke her in my memory. Her kindness and constancy. All her wisdom, musical and human, at the service of everyone. Always friendly and always there. It is as if even today she has not departed.

We all depart – that’s the inescapable rule without exception – but there is the chance to stay permanently in the memory and encourage others to live in an image preserved in the lives of those who must still fight (as fight we must) in this Valley of … whatever it is. If I were permitted to choose the image that I had to leave, it would be not unlike that which Toñy left to all who knew and loved her. The serenity with which she accepted her end, and her dignity in the face of pain – I think this last lesson was the strongest (amongst so many) of the strong lessons I received from her.

So even today I can not pass through El Retiro, opposite Calle de Alfonso XII, without turning to one its windows, hoping in my heart to see her once again inside and looking out.

© Gerardo Fernández San Emeterio 2011
tr. © Christopher Webber

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