Cecilia Valdés (Roig)

Alina Sánchez. Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, c. Félix Guerrero

Blanca Varela, Armando Pico, Julita Muñoz. Coro y Orquesta CMQ, c. Gonzalo Roig
EMI Hispavox 5 73417 2 (1962 TV version)

Ruth Fernández, Martha Perez, Aida Pujol, Francisco Naya. c. Gonzalo Roig
Montilla CDFM 118

The EGREM recording of Roig's greatest zarzuela, based on a 19th century classic of Cuban literature, stemmed from a 1990 Havana production. It contains more music than either of the versions conducted by the composer, in line with his later practices. Although it is seriously undocumented, the performance goes with a swing, and is the top choice.Félix Guerrero conducts with a lifetime's experience of the cuban style at his disposal and the results are very involving.

Extracts from this performance, featuring the vivid Sánchez in the title role, on make up the final part of a Parnaso compilation which makes a very useful introduction to the three staples of zarzuela cubana.

Of the composer's two readings, the Hispavox is readily available in a Caribe Productions reissue from Cuba (number unknown.) It is better sung and recorded, and offers a fuller text. Yet in spite of all this, the old Montilla, poorly though it is transferred from the classic LP record set, has a zest which its newer rival does not quite match.