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.
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 widein 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 Menegildas tango, after which she effortlessly encompasses the trills and vocal runs of La Palomas entrance song. Then, in Ascensións Romance, with its air of resentment and determination, she displays her more dramatic gifts. Its 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. Its 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 Artetas 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 extrasall in Spanish onlyinclude 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. Its a dull boy indeed who would not succumb fully to it.
© Andrew Lamb, 2004