Those lucky enough to come to La Zarzuela this Saturday will be able to discover the most Jerez facet, Manuel Alejandro and the Jerez that he has inside. Hand in hand with La Macanita, his great artistic cast will represent, through his music, the streets of his hometown: its cathedral, its neighborhoods, its passions, its clapping, its cantes, peñas, corners. All this, open on channel so that the audience remembers “the essence of Jerez that Manuel has in his veins”. And, if you want to live that essence of Jerez, Rosario Montoya, a great artist invited to this evening, insists on applauding “that feeling, her blood, genetics and the intensity” that you have from the south.
The songs of the author Manuel Alejandro, whose works portrayed the being and feeling of artists who made them their own, from Rocío Jurado to Raphael or Julio Iglesias, lead La Macanita to debut at the Teatro de la Zarzuela after its long and renowned career. . And she is not the only one who lands for the first time on this great stage: Rosario, aka La Reina Gitana, also premieres this stop. An artist who brims with spirit and who was clear about her future since she was a child.
And so much so that since she was four years old she asked for things like a queen, really, not toys, and always a grand piano, like the black one she plays today. She brought him some toy plastic jewelry and a piano, also made of plastic, with glued keys. “I love you, you have not understood this well,” he protested to her family. Maybe it was because they didn’t understand him well, so his sister helped him write it to clarify that they give him his black grand piano, that the other one was fine but it was a toy. “You can’t ask for dolls, like your sister? You have to have a grand piano. Who do you think you are, a gypsy queen, Rosario?”, And her mother, by giving encouragement to such words, left the seed well planted.
At 14 she entered the Conservatory, where the most requested instrument was the piano and she, therefore, was on the waiting list. Meanwhile, she was learning her basics on the guitar. Juan Unqueras, her cousin, suggested something to her that she would end up taking more seriously than she would have imagined: “Since I see that you will be an artist tomorrow, why don’t you wear gypsy queen?”. The same thing her mother told her when she was little. Just because of that coincidence, she put it on. Because there are names that are written from the beginning, as well as the journey and the passion that she sings on her keys.
From Macana, El Tortas, dancers, classical opera people such as Ismael Jordi, going through Anabel Valencia, María Terremoto… There are numerous artists, both from the world of flamenco and abroad, with whom the Queen has worked. She especially remembers Tortas, “the greatest, the most genius”. In a world ruled by a patriarchal society in which the artist has gone through various complications, because she is that gypsy woman that she would accompany from the piano instead of any man, it was Fernando Terremoto who led her to play with a singer men. “The first”, he strongly emphasizes, “the brave non-macho”.
With a career on stages around the world, machismo did not go unpunished in his way and now, already with perspective and experience, he admits what he had to experience: “He didn’t care if I was a woman or a man, he wanted my touch piano with him. As a result of that, the singers took me into account because they have it engraved in their heads”.
I also see machismo now that I look back, that distrust towards a woman about whether she can play you well por soleá
Who has accompanied flamenco from the beginning has been a man, the male figure on the guitar, and they take it for granted. “A singer who hires me to accompany him is still complicated, there are more women than men”. He also plays Jesús Méndez, who counts on her whenever he has the opportunity, Tortas, Terremoto, Luis Moneo. Diego Agujetas, at almost 80 years old, said that he did not give a damn that she was a woman and called people “absurd” for discriminating at that point. “We are managing to touch everyone, thank God.”
At the Conservatory everyone plays their instruments and at this point it seems normalized, but in flamenco it has been harder for women like the Queen: “I have never seen that evil, I have been happy with my instrument, but now, that I am older, yes. I see machismo too now that I look back, that distrust towards a woman about whether she can touch you well for soleá”.
Of the event that awaits at the Zarzuela, she has received the two most sung pieces, among which the How I love you, Versioned by Rafael and Rocío Jurado. “These are well-known songs and I liked it because, at the beginning of the year, they called me to receive Manuel Alejandro, when they gave him the honor of being Favorite Son, with something of his own. I got shit, “he jokes, with the greatest honesty of him. And she remembers a phrase that marked her, words that the author dedicated to her at the time and that define the passion and dedication of the artist on her piano: “But don’t you see that this woman doesn’t play the piano? She that she sings with her hands. She doesn’t play, she sings.”
That’s how she is: melodic, “it’s as if I sang with my right hand”, and from there she goes out to interpret the How I love youwhich the Gypsy Queen dedicates to her daughter: “I am singing to her”. To this is added her interpretation of Our love was broken where he makes an introduction and then accompanies Macana. But she does not stick to the full interpretation of a theme, but rather she lives for her music: “When I play the piano, I do it to speak myself. Where do I leave myself if I only interpret? She would suffocate me, she would come out of there empty and anxious. Not because of nerves, but because I haven’t been able to speak.” It is something that she herself has felt with many accompaniments with singers “who do not transmit”, but that she, she promises, she will not do again, because she is not “a mere interpreter”.
Each of the artists that make up the poster, all from Jerez, contribute their mark, their personality and their color (La Macanita, Elena López, Manuel Valencia, Irene Ortega, María Lomas de Goñi, Perico Navarro, Chicharito de Jerez, Manuel Macano and Javi Peña, with Rosario Montoya and José Zarzana as guests). With their way of seeing music, each one summarizes the composer in a little basket and creates their own tribute.
She is proud of her land, for representing it and offering it to the artist “along with the greatest”, a very representative voice of the land, with very well chosen and selected artists. “I have performed more times in Madrid, but the Teatro de la Zarzuela… is the Teatro de la Zarzuela”. Few go there, and she was not going to miss her throne like her Queen, happy and just arrived from the presentation of love and fire, a symphonic piano concert at the Grape Harvest Festival in his city. A very European concert, styled in the north of France: a pianist, a soloist, sitting in the gardens and going beyond the traditional flamenco in Jerez.
Of all her European concerts or touring North America, from Infanta Elena, Doña Pilar de Borbón, with Antonio Banderas, Rosario stays with the lullaby she played when she brought her daughter in her arms, after giving birth. She thus defends the best of her scenarios: “In my living room, sitting in my piano chair, with my daughter in my left hand and putting her to sleep with the keys, with my right hand. That scene tops them all.” A woman dedicated body and soul to her work, but she keeps her feet on the ground and her hands on the keys.
He treasures his family, his true friends, the ones who are not influenced and worship him for how he plays. And those good artists, like her violinist, who has been in harmony with her since she was 16, or her teacher Pedro Salvatierra, who taught her to feel, to forget and get lost while playing a single key. She also Macana, Felipa de Moreno or Jesús Quintero. The latter, godfather of her daughter, always asked her if she was happy and worried about her surroundings: “He said that I was very sensitive, and that such a sensitive artist must be taken care of very well.”
A love that she shares and always demonstrates with her pieces, among which the unforgettable to my mother. “The to my mother They’ve already arranged it for a symphony and when they sent me the sketch I couldn’t speak”, which even led her to question whether she herself could perform it live, due to “the grandeur” of seeing it in harmony with such a symphony. “Who doesn’t love a mare? I interpret what I love him, what he makes me feel. The essence, together with my daughter, that I have so much in mind, ”she describes.
He defines his compositions as his experiences, what he feels and experiences: “For me, that is true flamenco. I was raised and educated musically with the definition that flamenco is the pure expression of that very moment or of what has happened to the performer who performs it. Flamenco is as pure as that”.
When he hears people refer to flamenco from before as conservative, “pure”, he insists on the cante of what is lived: in Torta, in Terremoto, by means of flamenco palos. “I tell many singer friends of mine: start singing your experiences. We already know how it runs, now sing how you feel. Those are my compositions: what I’ve been through”. Purity and life that he will reflect, one more day, at the Teatro de la Zarzuela: “I hope it fills up and turns upside down”. He goes with strings: piano, violin, cello, double bass. He goes with claps, his guitars, and not with another Our love was broken por bulerías, but “a very elegant performance with a lot of passion” by Macana and her companions, “with a lot of love”.