Paco de Lucía
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“The Unión goes from strength to strength”

Carlos Sánchez. La Unión (Murcia), August 2005

La Unión becomes the epicenter of world flamenco for the forty-fifth time. Artists of the ilk of Chano Lobato, Belén Maya, Mayte Martín, Estrella Morente, El Torta, Capullo de Jerez, Diego Carrasco, Tomasito, Arcángel and María Pagés, among others, made up an intriguing program spearheaded by the most universal of all guitarists, Paco de Lucía. The artist from Algeciras put the icing on a cake made with the finest flamenco ingredients. The Festival paid tribute to the legendary film director Carlos Saura. A well-deserved homage in recognition of his invaluable contribution to the promotion of the flamenco arts and spreading of the gospel, via his prolific cinematic and photographic work.


Mayte Martín and Belén Maya. La Unión 2005 (Photo: José Albadalejo)

The public market of the town of La Unión in Murcia province, the work of the Eiffel school, played host once again to the crème de la crème of the modern flamenco scene. A extensive selection of élite artists. From the youthful wisdom of Belén Maya or Arcángel, right through to the legendary Paco de Lucía, and taking in Jerez cornerstones such as El Torta and Capullo de Jerez. A balanced selection which never strayed from its mission to reveal the current directions in flamenco. The understanding between Mayte Martín and Belén Maya, the charm and grace of Chano Lobato, the angelical melodies of Estrella Morente, the idiosyncrasies of Jerez, Arcángel's journey from to new heights or the majesty of Paco de Lucía were reason enough to raise this festival to a new pinnacle. And as El Torta himself said: “La Unión goes from strength to strength”.

5th August. The show ‘Flamenco de cámara’, by Mayte Martín and Belén Maya, was chosen to kick off the proceedings, the first of six flamenco gala evenings scheduled for this year's festival. An intimate offering, oozing feeling and mutual understanding, that has traveled across the stages of the major festivals around the world with resounding success. An almost perfect combination of flamenco dance and vocals, between Belén Maya and Mayte Martín. A show where the deepest, most intimate feelings are unleashed. Smattered with a contemporary, cutting-edge approach. Looking for beautiful patterns, moments of sweetness, feelings of joy, with an air of melancholy. Beginning with a soleá. Belén Maya is a clear exponent of flamenco in motion. Incredible arm movements. Enviable use of her waist. With limitless resources for expression, she adopts seemingly impossible postures. She moves on to a concentric fantasy with the alegrías, after a taste of tientos tangos. As for Mayte Martín, she demonstrates the poetry of her vocals, her voice as sweet as honey. The Latin American influenced 'ida y vuelta' cantes emanate from her lungs with velvety smoothness. Vidalita and guajira. Their performance was rounded off with a taranto.

Chano Lobato. La Unión 2005 (Photo: José Albadalejo)

In Cadiz there's a special term for charm and grace: Chano Lobato. The eternal artist from the "little silver cup" as the city is known, continues to demonstrate his talents in every corner of the country. He did a little of everything. In his own inimitable style. From the most upbeat palos - tangos, cantiñas and bulerías - to the sobriety of the soleá, passing through cartageneras and tarantos to the well-trodden terrain of the bulería. Little snippets taken from here and there, all tinged with the cheerful personality of this Cadiz-born artist. The Seville-born cantaor Manuel Cuevas, who two years ago won the ‘Lámpara minera’ award, brought the first evening's proceedings to a close.

Estrella Morente. Las Minas 2005 (Photo: José Albadalejo)

On the evening of Saturday 6th August, the presence of Estrella Morente was awaited with impatience. The artist from Granada stepped into the “Cathedral of cante” ready to give her all. And that intention showed through… Her beauty radiant as always, flamenco through and through. She began with alegrías. She made the lyric her own, giving it her own personal touch. She moved on to the 'cantes mineras'. A delicate territory that must be carefully trodden. Por taranta. The guitar of Alfredo Lagos provides faithful accompaniment at every moment. The artist from Granada starts to feel more at home with cantes from her homeland, moulding them to the tessitura of her voice. Por granaínas. With sweet overtones. And directly on to tientos-tangos. She's already more than proved herself as a soloist. Now it's time for some members of her family to appear on stage. Aunts, cousins and even her brother, Enrique Morente Jr. The second part of the show begins. She opens the way to bulería with a bulería por soleá, before dabbling in the major key of a bambera. And that's it. “Anda jaleo, jaleo”.

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