Soprano Montserrat Caballé about her teacher Conxita Badia

She was unique, unique, all the monuments they could create for her would be too few and if I should be good enough as to leave a mark, the one that I had to leave would be hers.

Montserrat Caballé (1933-2018) was one of Conxita Badia‘s pupils.

Conxita Badia and Montserrat Caballé

Vote now: Tribade!

Congratulations are in order for Tribade who have been nominated for the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards 2020, the ‘annual EU prize for popular and contemporary music celebrates emerging artists who represent the European sound of today and tomorrow.’

The nomination announces Tribade as ‘a young female rap act from Barcelona, lead by MCs Bittah, Masiva Lulla and Sombra Alor. The group is devoted to original rap culture and its mission of denunciation and empowerment through rhythm and poetry. Lyrically, Tribade brings the XXIst century universe of three young women fighting against precariousness in a male dominated society and amplifies through its poetry repressed realities such as LGBT, as well as local and neighbourhood struggles, and antifa activism. Musically, Barcelona is not only 90s mestizo, rumba and fiesta beats: Tribade blends a fresh and original mix of rap with flamenco, soul, Afrotrap and reggaeton.’

Each artist can win two prizes. First an international jury will select eight winners, each winner will receive a prize worth € 10.000,- to be spent towards promoting their international careers. But music fans across Europe can also vote for their favourite artist; the winner of the Public Choice Award will receive a prize of €5.000,-.

It is worthwhile to take part and vote, because you are competing for a trip including a stay and a festival entrance to Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) in January 2020 in the Netherlands. So do not hesitate and go to the artist profile of Tribade and cast your vote for their music and its powerful message!

Photo exhibition ‘Working Women in Lloret (1900-1990)’

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The exhibitionThe Work of Women in Lloret (1900-1990)‘ (original title: “El treball de les dones a Lloret (1900-1990)” shows the development of working women in Lloret de Mar during the 20th century. These women have always been invisible and this collection aims to give them the credit they earn.

The documents and many photos do not only talk about teachers, politicians or hoteliers, but also lace-makers, net-menders and cleaning ladies and other professionals. You see women in all kind of situations, like working in the field, doing the washing in the river or at their job in the textile factory.

It was an era of change from traditional to modern society. According to the theoretical model the male mostly working as a fisherman or farmer, was the breadwinner and the woman was confined to her household chores and bearing and educating children. Many times reality turned out to be different. In more than one case because the income generated by the male was not enough to keep the family going and the earnings of the woman were more than welcome.

A very important push into modernity was upcoming tourism in the 1950s in which the women played a crucial role, thus not only changing the day-to-day life of their families but also that of Lloret itself. This interesting piece of history featuring these pioneer women, is very well explained in the documentary Pensió Completa. As it is only available in Catalan, I will shortly publish an article dedicated to this phenomenon that made the small fishing town of Lloret de Mar into a popular seaside resort visited each year by thousands of tourists.

The above photo is a fragment of the poster of the exhibition showing a woman mending stockings (Josep Vilà i Prats, 1910) Source: Municipality of Lloret.

For more photos visit the online catalogue.

Practical information:
Open till 31/12
Venue: Arxiu Municipal (Municipal Archives)
Address: Josep Lluhí, 24 – Lloret de Mar
Free entrance.

Càndida Pérez and her music hall songs

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It is 1920 and Pilar Alonso, a singer of popular songs and very famous in those days, performs one cuplé after another and scores such a success that at the end of the show she has exhausted her repertoire of pieces in Spanish. The public demands more and then Pilar begins to sing Les caramelles, a cuplé in Catalan newly composed by Càndida Pérez and already very popular in Catalonia. The audience is wildly enthusiastic and from that moment on cuplés in Catalan become all the rage and are sung in every corner of the country.

Career
By then Càndida is 27 years old and boasts a wide experience in theatre style songs. She has not only starred in shows in her native town of Olot, but has also worked in Italy under contract of an Italian vaudeville company directed by Melquiadez Lucarelli Ferri.

After this tour she returns to Catalonia, to fulfill her dream and study music and composition in Barcelona. Together with Lucarelli she founds an academy of song and dance, specialising in music hall shows in the ‘Carrer de Valldonzella, 6’. In the same premises a musical production company is established enabling Càndida to make some records.

Continue reading “Càndida Pérez and her music hall songs”

Càndida’s cuplés

The cuplé, a popular risqué Spanish theatre song style, was especially popular in the late years of the 19th century. From 1893–1911 the songs were a feature of the “género ínfimo” (lowest type) cabaret theatre traditionally sung by solo female singers, or men in drag, and attended mainly by men.

In the second decade of the 20th century the cuplé, in a more respectable form, became more family-friendly and was associated with the makings of stars of the Spanish theatre.

In Barcelona the theatres on the Paral·lel, in the 20th century the centre of Barcelona’s nightlife and the home of Càndida Pérez and Raquel Meller, hosted many shows featuring cuplés. Click here and listen to some original audios.

The 70s knew a revival of this genre through performances and recordings by Núria Feliu (El cuplet a BarcelonaCuplets tradicionals catalans) and Guillermina Motta (especially her LP Remena nena).

Two popular songs composed by Càndida
El noi de la mare originally was a cradlesong, probably written in the 18th or 19th century. Gradually it became part of the Christmas repertoire. Many adaptions have been made and one of the most moving versions is that of Càndida Pérez and Sants Albiesa recorded by Raquel Meller in Paris in 1926.

Outside Spain it was made famous by Andrés Segovia who used to perform Miguel Llobet‘s guitar transcription as an encore.

The lyric of Marieta de l’ull viu, written by Faust Casals, tells the legend of woman who had really lived in the Ribera district of Barcelona. It explains that she used to walk to the well called El Font del Gat on the hill of Mountjuïc escorted by a soldier who abandoned her when she got pregnant. This feat urged her to leave the area which motivated the creation of the song.

In the above video the theatre company “Els Jocs Florals de Canprosa” interprets La Marieta de l’ull viu, composed by Càndida Pérez. The company’s director is Jordi Prat i Coll; musical direction by Dani Espasa and choreography by Montse Colomé.

Both songs are still widely played and sung throughout Catalonia.

What Conxita Badia meant for a composer

For Conxita, who guesses what the musician has thought and even what he has not thought.

Juan José Castro, Argentine composer, dedicated to Conxita Badia the songs Romance de la luna, luna and La casada infiel from the Romancero gitano by Federico García Lorca that he had set to music.

Poem on ‘white death’ turned into song

Maria-Mercè Marçal wrote her touching poem ‘Covava l’ou de la mort blanca’ when she already knew that she was suffering from cancer, ‘la mort blanca’ (‘white death’).

It was set to music by Sílvia Pérez Cruz who also performs the song on this video. Posted on World Cancer Day (4 February).

Conxita Badia, singer

Some time ago I read the review of a documentary that got me curious. Its title was enticing: Conxita Badia no existeix (Conxita Badia does not exist). The name did ring a bell, but was I remembering someone who did not exist?

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Conxita Badia in Argentina (1939)

It turned out to be a film about soprano Conxita Badia (1897-1975) made by her great-granddaughter Eulàlia Domènech. She had found out that very few audios and no videos of Badia’s performances have been preserved. This lack of remnants gave her the feeling that she had to inform the general public about her talented relative who was once universally recognized as an accomplished lied singer.

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Photo taken in 1934

In the interviews shown in the documentary, experts and people who have known her explain that Conxita Badia was the perfect lied singer and an inspiration for many composers and musicians. In fact, quite a number of them seems to owe their fame to her.

Apart from her beautiful soprano voice, Conxita Badia allegedly knew how to communicate to the public the action and emotion of the poem set to music. Her sense of timing, rhythm, interval and phrasing were flawless, while her facial expression and body language supported the meaning of the song. Critics especially praise her diction stressing the clear and accurate presentation of each and every line.

According to the film, in her time the vocalist was famous and performed in the best concert halls in Europe and North and South America. This means that many people around the world must have heard her sing. Yet she hardly left any trace. So here is what I have come to know about her. Longread: a life filled with songs

Conxita Badia sings Enric Granados

In this audio singer Conxita Badia is interpreting Tonadillas and Canciones Amatorias, composed by Enric Granados. Two of the latter songs were dedicated to Conxita by the composer; she sung them for the first time in 1913 in the Sala Granados (Barcelona).

Shortly I will publish a page with an illustrated biography and other posts related to this forgotten artist.

Photo: Recording the LP “Homenaje a Granados” with pianist Alícia de Larrocha and impresario Oriol Martorell.

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