40th CARACOLÁ LEBRIJANA FLAMENCO FESTIVAL
To Fernanda and Bernarda
Carlos Sánchez. Lebrija (Seville),
July 16th, 2005
The fortieth edition of ‘Caracolá Lebrijana’.
For the occasion, a genuinely top-notch bill with artists
of the likes of José Mercé, El Lebrijano and
Manuela Carrasco, among others. The current edition of this
unique festival wanted to pay tribute to the sisters Fernanda
and Bernarda de Utrera, giving them the ‘Golden
Snail’, an award which only four artists have received
throughout the forty-year history of this summer flamenco
event in the Sevillian countryside. Bernarda was in charge
of picking up said prize. The night went on until five thirty
in the morning. A real flamenco marathon.
Bernarda de Utrera, Manuela Carrasco
and Fernando de la Morena.
Photo: Carlos Sánchez
It was past eleven o'clock at night on the clock. The former
playground of Lebrija's Franciscan convent looks great. The
night is pleasant. The west wind provides a breather from
the high temperatures reached over the previous days. With
the arrival of summer, flamenco leaves behind the coldness
of theaters in order to settle at more primitive and ancestral
locations. In the open air. A beautiful spot in an evocative
setting. With the ‘Giraldilla’ as an exceptional
witness. There's a family atmosphere. Groups and groups of
enthusiasts, with their coolers loaded up, start taking their
seats. It looks likes there's a long night ahead. Well aware
of it, they come supplied with the food and drink needed to
spend the most pleasant, relaxing evening possible. Lebrija
has a good following. Respectful from beginning to end.
Not in vain have the greatest flamenco artists appeared at
this event over the years. There must be some reason. In its
fortieth anniversary, the ‘Caracolá Lebrijana’
wanted to pay tribute to the Utrera-born cantaoras Fernanda
and Bernarda, giving them the ‘Golden Snail’,
the festival's lifetime achievement award which had only been
handed out on four previous occasions. The first artist to
receive said award was María Fernández ‘La
Perrata’, whose figure illustrates the bill of this
fortieth edition. It is said that, excited by the award, she
went up to the Castle and sang a Salve (prayer) to the Virgin
crowning Utrera. Juan Peña ‘El Lebrijano’,
Curro Malena and Salvador Távora complete a list now
lengthened by Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera.
Photo: Carlos Sánchez
The festival kicks off with the young generations from Lebrija.
Juana Vargas and Anabel Valencia begin with fiesta. Tangos
and bulerías. A preamble to Fernando de la Morena's
rhythmic and spoken cante. The Jerez-born cantaor completed
an exquisite performance with soleá, seguiriya, fandangos
and bulerías. Authentically. Juan Peña ‘El
Lebrijano’ followed him. The Sevillian artist
is one of the regulars at the festival. His memory is well-established
in that “Giraldilla” (church tower) which for
some years now has been an eyewitness to this flamenco event.
‘El Lebrijano's’ quejío thunders. Fandango
airs. He goes on with alegrías so as to later plunge
into the soleá through bulerías. Recalling Frijones,
Antonio Mairena's version. He closes with bulerías.
It's time for the unmistakable echo of José
Mercé. The Jerez-born cantaor displays his best
side when he connects with that forceful branch he comes from.
A descendant of seguiriyero Paco la Luz and the Sordera family,
José Mercé offered his most jondo side to the
delight of the most demanding enthusiasts. Soleá. With
a settled voice with that old-time flavor. He dedicates the
seguiriya to Antonio Núñez ‘Chocolate’
- a cantaor announced for the current edition who could not
attend due to illness -. Weightily. Fighting each stage. “Siempre
por los rincones”, Manuel Molina's version. The enchanted
guitar of Manuel Moreno Junquera ‘Moraíto’
does a seguiriyera lead-in to the fandangos. The chill of
the night air creeps in little by little. He finished his
performance with bulerías. With the rhythmic tapping
of his native land. The clocks are close to striking two in
the morning. “Aire, aire. Pasa, pasa” ("Air,
air. Keep on coming"). That's how the first half concludes.
Following a brief break, the festival organization awarded
Bernarda the ‘Golden Snail’. The Sevillian artist
appeared very excited at all times and joked around with each
and every artist present on stage to accompany her at such
a meaningful moment. Bernarda started up with bulerías,
giving proof that Utrera is still alive.
Carrasco is in charge of opening the second half. Very
elegant as always. With enviable bearing and presence, she
delighted those present with bulerías, alegrías
and her majestic soleá. Bailaores Torombo and Rafael
de Carmen also left their mark on this Sevillian festival.
Following over an hour of baile, cante returned by the hand
of Miguel Funi. A native-born artist. A descendant of the
Pinini family. True to their style. He began with tonás
feeding on soleá rhythm and finished off with malagueñas.
A real mixture of elements. Seguiriya. Playing around with
the fluctuations, he delves into the bulería. There's
room here for the verdiales, tarantos and fandangos as well.
It's past four o'clock in the morning. A certain part of the
crowd sticks it out. The night draws to an end. Curro de la
Malena is the one in charge of putting the final touch on
the fortieth edition of the ‘Caracolá Lebrijana’.
Also with soleá, seguiriya, fandangos and bulerías.
A repertoire often repeated throughout the night. Five thirty
in the morning. Time for the magic to go to bed, or not.