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An unforgettable zarzuela returns to the Cuban stage: Cecilia Valdés

Published: 2017.02.01 - 15:56:43   /  /  Miguel Darío García Porto  /  translated by  Luis E. Amador Dominguez  /

An unforgettable zarzuela returns to the Cuban stage: Cecilia ValdésThe Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso is soon to host the revival of "Cecilia Valdés", a piece based on the homonymous novel by Cirilo Villaverde and music by Gonzalo Roig.

The acclaimed performance reaches the Cuban stage the last weekend of January, under the artistic direction of Ivan Balmaseda.

In the more than eighty years that this zarzuela has been performed its success has always been obvious, because it is the most admired work by all the public for its attractive plot and effective musical work.

Knowing this precedent, it will be defended in the main roles by soprano Milagros de los Angeles Soto as Cecilia, tenor Saeed Mohamed as Leonardo, bass Marcos Lima as José Dolores Pimienta, amongst other performers of the National Lyric Theater of Cuba.

The staging on this occasion rests upon the foundations of the late stage director Juan Rodolfo Amán, who used to base his criteria on minimalism; in the new production directed by Balmaseda this aspect has yielded in order to give an opening to the performers by sacrificing the technique in favor of emotion.

The plot of "Cecilia Valdés" takes place in the colonial times of Havana and tells of the events that occurred around the beautiful mulatto Cecilia Valdés, who is the illegitimate daughter of the wealthy Spaniard Cándido de Gamboa, and Leonardo, the son of Don Cándido, without knowing this, falls in love with her and becomes his lover.

Nevertheless, in spite of the passion of the young people the relationship does not fructify due to the social conventions, and Leonardo leaves Cecilia to marry the distinguished Isabel Ilincheta; however, Cecilia does not like it and instigates the mulatto José Dolores Pimienta, eternally in love with her without returning his love, to kill Leonardo.

The rich plot is a reference of the homonymous novel by Cuban writer Cirilo Villaverde, but without doubt in the representation the beautiful musical arrangements by Gonzalo Roig stand out, who tells about his writing, "I wrote ‘’Cecilia Valdés’’ in a month and days. I did not only write it, but also put music in it as well. I was dedicated exclusively to that piece; I only lived for that, and would wear an overall in the morning, then I would go to the theater, take some food and eat there.

Maestro Roig wrote the piece for the voice of Caridad Suárez, however, she did not have the honor of being the first to perform it, as the author chose the Mexican Elisa Altamirano for the premiere.

It is recorded in the original score by the composer himself that the play, "It was premiered on Saturday of Glory, March 26, 1932 at the Teatro Martí de La Habana", and that night the coliseum was crowded to see the desired representation.

Historians tell that not only the regular audience was present in the performances of this nature, but also the enemies of the author who thought to boo the work, nevertheless from its first scenes those present verified a different work and the ovations were extraordinary, and they even had to repeat some arias like that of the entrance of the black Dolores Santa Cruz..

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