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 Barcelona, Cuplets 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.