In their recent collaboration, Neemrana Music Foundation, along with Embassy of Spain and Instituto De Cervantes presented works by a prominent 20th Spanish composer, Manuel de Falla.
The operas that were selected for the Indian audience were Pedros’s Puppet Show (El retablo de Maeso Pedro; 1923) and the 1904 award winning opera, Life is Short (La Vida Breve).
While Pedro’s Puppet Show allows us a snippet of Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Life is Short introduces us to a love story between a gypsy maiden and a rich man. Falla masterfully draws attention to the factual, eccentric, bucolic, and grand elements. I attended the final show that was held at the Bahá’í House of Worship, on the 27th of April, 2017.
Óscar Lobete, the music director and pianist worked with this team for the second time, after last year’s Zarzuela ‘The Jewish Boy’. He felt that given the time frame, the operas by Manuel de Falla are perhaps one of the toughest performances to pull off. He was happy with the dedication and efforts of the soloists and the singers. He said that Falla isn’t an easy composer to understand. He was really impressed with the small orchestra that Neemrana organised. They were able to produce a good sound with just 10 days of practice. He found them particularly incredible for being able to understand Falla’s music.
During the evening’s performance, two aspects drew my curiosity – Óscar Lobete’s piano playing and the eloquent flamenco acts, choreographed by Paola Santa Cruz. Lobete explained that he needed to conduct as well as play, in order to enhance the sound of the orchestra. About flamenco he said that Falla was heavily influenced by flamenco rhythms in his works. La Vida Breve is a merger of various sounds- French music, as he was living in Paris at that time and Spanish music with pop as well as flamenco tinges.
Nadya Balan, who coached the choir from the Blind Relief Association pointed out how difficult it was for the kids to sing in a language that they are not so well versed with. English is not a language commonly spoken by them. Support from Aude Priya, Philippe Engel, Jasmin Martorell and many others were invaluable in Pedro’s Puppet that involved the kids. As an initiation to the world of Manuel de Falla’s operas, it was promising indeed.