Hotel manager against all odds

It was in the news this week: hotel rooms are converted into hospital wards to house convalescent Covid-19 patients. One of these hotels is the historic Hotel Trias in Palamós (Costa Brava). Few people know that this establishment has been built up by a girl of 17 who, despite repeated setbacks, turned a small inn into a prestigious business.

We are talking about Maria Trias Joan who was an only child born to Francisco and Matilde on 29 July 1892 in Sant Joan de Palamós. At the age of fourteen she becomes an orphan and just two years later she decides to take over the family business: the inn founded in 1900.

The hotel in 1913

Maria, and educated woman who speaks French and plays the piano, marries the veterinary Lluís Colomer Moret. He sadly dies when she is expecting their second child, already having lost another one. But she perseveres educating the two children and building up the enterprise all by herself. And not without success, for in 1924 she already is awarded an important touristic prize largely due to her great working capacity, genial character and humanity that attracts many faithful customers. So Fonda Trias becomes a hotel that is a meeting place of international importance.

Maria Trias with her two nieces and waiter Siset Corominola
Destruction, rebuilding and Truman Capote

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

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