Viva La Revolution! Cecilia Valdes a Cuban Operetta by Gonzalo Roig. Superb! This one is a keeper, a real vintage and cultural treat. 10 thumbs up. We are new to Opera (but I love it) and what we are learning about opera so far, is that they are all tragic love stories? Am I right? This one is not exception. So epic and heart wrenching.
from WIKI (as I’m at working entering these records ~ still no interweb!):
The first version of the novel Cecilia Valdés o la Loma del Angel appeared in Havana in 1839; its definitive and larger version, was published in New York in 1882, being re-edited several times. It has never been out of print in Spanish, and there are several English editions (as Cecilia Valdes or Angel Hill). It is widely regarded as the best Cuban novel of th 19th century.
Action (in both the novel and the zarzuela) takes place in colonial Cuba about 1830. The young and beautiful light skinned mulatta, Cecilia Valdés, is the illegitimate daughter of powerful land magnate and slave trader, Candido de Gamboa. Leonardo de Gamboa is his legitimate son. Leonardo falls in love with Cecilia not realizing that she is his own half-sister, and they become lovers. At the same time, hopelessly in love with Cecilia is also another man, the poor black musician, José Dolores Pimienta. His advances Cecilia rejects; and she conceives Leonardo’s son.
Love between Leonardo and Cecilia does not last, however. He abandons her and becomes betrothed to a white upper class woman, a certain Isabel Ilincheta. Cecilia turns to the faithful Pimienta to plan revenge. On the day of his wedding he is assassinated on the steps of the cathedral by Pimienta who acts on the instigation of Cecilia. He is executed, and she is thrown in prison.
Cecilia Valdés reveals the intricate problems of race relations in Cuba. There are the elite social circles of Spanish-born and creole whites; the growing number of mulattos, of which Cecilia is one, and the blacks, some slaves, some freed men. The blacks are also divided between those who were born in Africa and those who were born in Cuba, those who worked on the sugar plantation and those who worked in the households of the wealthy in Havana. Cecilia Valdés is a canvas displaying the sexual, social, and racial interaction of the Cubans of the day.
As GONZALO ROIG is a huge historic figure in Havanna, here’s his totally interesting bio:
In 1902 he began to study piano, music theory and solfège and then later graduated in music studies at the Havana Conservatory. In 1907 he played part, as a pianist, in an ensemble (trio), and thus started his very active career in music, composed his first musical piece Voice of misfortune for piano and solo voice. Two years later he began playing violin at the Marti Theater in Havana. In 1917 he traveled to Mexico, and worked there briefly, returning to Cuba the same year. In 1922 he was co-founder of the Symphony Orchestra in Havana, of which he become music director.
In 1927 he was appointed director of the Municipal Music Band of Havana. During his tenure as director (he held the position until his death) he made countless contributions to the Cuban music. In 1929 he founded the Orchestra of Ignacio Cervantes which, a year later, was invited by the Pan American Union to lead a series of concerts in The United States of America. In 1931, while participating in the creation of the National Theatre, he composed and premiered (next year) his zarzuela, Cecilia Valdés, a typical example of the Cuban lyric theatre.
In 1938 he founded the National Opera in Havana, which he directed for a few years. He traveled frequently and gave performances in many parts of the world. He founded the Society of Cuban Authors, the National Federation of Authors of Cuba, the National Union of Authors of Cuba and the National Society of Authors of Cuba.
Oh wow. Don’t deny yourself this..
- Documentary Film: “Cuba in the Age of Obama” (repeatingislands.com)
- Cubans to give up their famous habit (rt.com)
VIVA LA CUBA!