'Bernarda de Utrera'
Real Video

Lebrijano & Faiçal
"Puertas abiertas"


To Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera

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.

Manuela 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.

More information:

Interview with El Lebrijano, cantaor (April 2005)

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