Ainhoa Arteta
y nuestra zarzuela

Carmen Gonzalez (Rosario, left) and Milagros Martin (Manuela la Chulapona, right)
Ainhoa Arteta

reviewed by Andrew Lamb


Giménez: El baile de Luis Alonso – Intermedio. La tempranica – La tarántula. La boda de Luis Alonso – Intermedio. Chueca: La Gran Vía – Introducción y Polca de las calles; Tango de la Menegilda; Chotis del Elíseo madrileño. Agua, azucarillos y aguardiente – Pasacalle de barquilleros; Coro de niñas. Vives: Doña Francisquita – Fandango; Coro de románticos. Barbieri: El barberillo de Lavapiés – Canción de la Paloma. Sorozábal: La del manojo de rosas – Romanza de Ascención. Don Manolito – Canto a Madrid. Guridi: El caserío – Preludio Acto II. Mirentxu – Romanza. Serrano: La canción del olvido – Canción de Rosina.
Chapí: El tambor de granaderos – Preludio. El rey que rabió – Coro de doctores. La hijas del Zebedeo – Carceleras. Torroba: La marchenera: Petenera.

Ainhoa Arteta, RTVE Chorus & Symphony Orchestra,
c. Enrique García Asensio.
Recorded Teatro Monumental, Madrid, 20 December 1996

[ Circulo Digital, Obras Maestras de la Lírica no.4, 14.5 Euros]


As if the sight of Ainhoa Arteta appearing in a succession of fabulous gowns were not sufficient to set the heart racing, this concert straight away gets us into receptive mood with joyous helpings of Giménez and Chueca. Thereafter its range is commendably wide—in terms of the composers represented, the balance of familiar and unfamiliar, the variations of emotion, and the opportunities for Arteta to display her winning vocal and dramatic attributes.

In the first of her nine solos, Arteta is suitably impish in La Menegilda’s tango, after which she effortlessly encompasses the trills and vocal runs of La Paloma’s entrance song. Then, in Ascensión’s Romance, with its air of resentment and determination, she displays her more dramatic gifts. It’s in a genuine rarity, the deeply moving romance from Mirentxu, that she parades her emotional range to greatest effect, the effect scarcely diminished by Spanish-only subtitles giving the wrong text. It’s also this Mirentxu number, together with the atmospheric Prelude to Act II of El caserío, with its range of Basque instrumental colour, that serves to pay due homage to Arteta’s own Basque origins.

In between, we have a typical selection of choruses and orchestral intermedios. The matronly figures, receding hairlines and spectacles among the RTVE chorus do little to diminish the serenity of the uplifting Coro de románticos and do everything to enhance the professorial tone of the Coro de doctores from El rey que rabió. This last is the middle of three Chapí items that bring the main programme to an end, the last being a Carceleras that Arteta gives the full range of facial expression, hand gestures and sheer vocal brilliance. It raises well deserved cheers from an audience whose otherwise often subdued reaction presumably betrays the good fortune of being able to treat fare such as this with familiarity.

As final item in the formal programme the Carceleras also brings Arteta her own well deserved manojo de rosas, from which she distributes single blooms to conductor, leader, audience and chorus alike. Then the inevitable encores summarise all that is good about zarzuela and this particular recital. García Asensio may not be the most subtle of conductors; but an engaging piece of play-acting makes effective display of his orchestral command, as he gives his instrumentalists their head in the intermedio from La boda de Luis Alonso. Then Arteta produces one final demonstration of vocal agility, enhanced by fine control of expression and dynamics, in a performance of the Petenera from La marchenera that equals anything that has gone before.

The DVD extras—all in Spanish only—include an Arteta biography, synopses of the works featured, information on their composers, and a brief history of zarzuela. They adequately complement a recital that is brilliantly programmed and delivered with zest and finesse. It’s a dull boy indeed who would not succumb fully to it.

© Andrew Lamb, 2004


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