An anthology with a difference
Valencia “is the land of flowers, light and love” — and of music! There’s no doubt that the region of Spain that has nurtured most of our inspired composers and many of our better vocal talents is Valencia — or, by extension, the Levante. Penella, Padilla, Chapí, Torregrosa, Lleó, Serrano... can anywhere boast better?
Adi Producciones is a newly-formed private company, that has been undertaking praiseworthy artistic activity in the Valencia area for several seasons. The staging that has given them a well-deserved reputation is Tres forasteros en Madrid, though with the title changed to the more conventional De Valencia to Madrid: la eterna zarzuela in its latest Madrid performance as part of the II Festival de IntegrArte at the Teatro Albéniz.
This time the company was amplified by a small band of instrumentalists formed by members of the Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid (permanent orchestra of the Teatro de la Zarzuela) under the baton of efficient maestro José Fabra. Consequently the staging gained artistically; although a solo piano was still used to accompany the lighter numbers, lending a certain air of café cantante to the proceedings.
And it is precisely there, in a café from the first years of the 20th century, that the three protagonists appear: Ruperto Chapí, José Serrano, and Vicente Lleó, played brilliantly by Juli Mira, Héctor Fuster and the colourful Antonio Martínez Abellán respectively. Around their debates concerning the aesthetics and future path of zarzuela a substantial and generous selection of musical numbers is arranged. Popular extracts from La revoltosa, Las hijas del Zebedeo, La canción del olvido and La corte de Faraón are mixed with real rarities such as El perro chico, La reja de la Dolores, El príncipe Carnaval and El amor en solfa. They miss out, though, on less commonly heard music by Lleó — you can't please everyone!
The singers, all Valencians, showed undeniable professionalism and good taste in their interpretations: Amparo Navarro, Silvia Vázquez, Eduardo Sandoval, Javier Agulló, Boro Giner and a better known pair — Javier Galán (familiar from La eterna canción at the Teatro Español) and Sandra Ferrández (magnificent, of course, who once again thrilled us just as on her debut at the Zarzuela Theatre in La verbena de la Paloma).
Let's hope this team of Valencian performers won't be too long away from Madrid, with their notable love of all things to do with zarzuela and their native soil, music above all. De Valencia a Madrid is not just another bog-standard zarzuela anthology. Rather, it shows what privately funded companies of comparatively small means can do to mount attractive spectacles, interesting to the ordinary public and aficionados alike, and achieving an aesthetically appealing and solidly professional result. Madrid is waiting!
© Enrique Mejías García 2006