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Zarzuela concert

By C. Wall

The Gibraltar Philharmonic Society, sponsored by the Kusuma Trust, chose Zarzuela for the last concert of the recent lockdown, broadcast by GBC on the workers’ holidays of April 28 and May 1.

Soprano Raquel Lojendio and baritone Javier Franco, accompanied by pianist Ramon Grau, opened with a selection from Sorozábal’s La del Manojo de Rosas. They delivered “Hace tiempo de vengo al taller” with a conversational lyricism, operatic voices making light of that pasodoble’s technical challenges. Franco enunciated every word of “Madrileña bonita” without sacrificing the romantic tone. Lojendio replied with understated elegance in her own romanza, “No corté más que una rosa”, before the habanera duet “Que está esto muy bajo” showed the singers’ acting chops.

“Gran Fantasía Brillante” was Cleto Zavala’s title for his rich fantasy based on Chapí’s La Tempestad, which our pianist Grau introduced and played with some gusto. Franco’s straight reading of “Junto al puente de la peña” was followed by an energetic “Carceleras” from Lojendio and the moving duet “Por qué de mis ojos” from La Revoltosa.

Grau gave us another piano solo, the sentimental Rapsodia Vascongada by José María Usandizaga, before we returned to the Zarzuela standards: a grand “De España vengo”, a solemn “Ya mis horas felices”, a frilly “Sierras de Granada”. Guridi’s El Caserío provided an uplifting duet (“Con alegría inmensa”) besides a wonderful solo for Franco. The concert closed with the boisterous exchanges of “No seas tirana” from El Barberillo de Lavapies.

This programme no doubt appealed to beyond the usual classical aficionados, and should have reached our most vulnerable demographic at a time of renewed hope. My one concern is that the producers of the TV broadcast again felt it necessary to add canned applause to each performance.

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