Review – Estrella Morente – Sadler’s Wells 2009 Flamenco Festival

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Last night I went to Sadler’s Wells to see Estrella Morente perform. She was accompanied by two guitarists and three singers (two female and one male) who, of course, also clapped, stamped, and snapped their fingers as the mood warranted. It started with her dressed in what looked to me like an equestrienne costume, with a black shortish jacket, a string tie, and tight pants. With her hair pulled back, she was a sight to behold – beautiful, focused on the music, and, to me, the epitome of Flamenco. She encouraged the guitarists with “Ole!”s and sang spiritedly. Her hands seemed to communicate the words of her songs, which, sadly, I wasn’t usually able to follow along with – just a few words I didn’t understand or one which the vocalizations broke in a way I wasn’t expecting and I just got totally lost. A real incentive to improve my Spanish, this woman is.

A brief pause, though: my enjoyment of this evening was SERIOUSLY hampered by the people sitting next to me, who seemed to feel that they could not WAIT to check their text messages until the show was over – or even to wait until the pause between songs. And the one who took a flash photo – SERIOUSLY! We were inside and this was completely inexcusable (not to mention illegal in most venues). I was about to grab his phone and throw it down the aisle or into the orchestra pit. The glare was really impressive. At least the girl sitting next to me, who couldn’t seem to wean herself off of Facebook, had the decency to try to keep her phone in her bag so as to reduce the quantity of light she was emitting. I was, however, appalled.

The guitarists both did some solos, and I thought the younger one seemed frustrated in a kind of competition with the older one – such a beautiful woman, if only I could be more skilled, she would pay more attention to me! But perhaps that was just me imposing something that wasn’t happening on the evening. At one point in the middle she disappeared, and was replaced about ten minutes later by a sensuous beauty with tousled hair in an off-the-shoulder black dress with a purple and green shawl wrapped around her. She looked like she’d just got out of bed after a particularly good night. I thought maybe we were going to get some dancing, but … those eyes … those cheekbones … my God, it was Ms. Morente again, looking like a goddess! (I was thinking Keira Knightly in Pirates of the Carribbean would have been meant to look as lush as this.) Now she stood as she sang, occasionally using her shawl for emphasis, singing of birds and skies and rivers running dry and sad memories, and with what little I understood I felt like my heart was breaking listening to her recounting the ways in which life seems to serve only to disappoint.

At the end she sang a song that most of the audience seemed to know (with lyrics about Miami, Londra, etc.) that had her getting the crowd to sing along (and one man in front of me to use her mike – he seemed to explode with excitement and, truth be told, did not have a bad voice), then did an a capella song with her three accompanying singers – which provided a nice chance to hear the gentleman sing (I could imagine spending a lovely night at a bar just letting him tell me the story of his life in song). There was no encore after the last song wrapped up, but with such a glorious evening, it seemed we were best to walk out, floating, on the high she’d created.

(This review is for a sold-out performance that took place Saturday, March 14th, 2009. It’s a bit difficult to review the show as there was no set list and no list of musicians, so pardon the lack of detail! For a review of a show that was probably about the same as this one, see the Miami Herald.)

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3 Responses to “Review – Estrella Morente – Sadler’s Wells 2009 Flamenco Festival”

  1. jenniferdebeer Says:

    As a matter of interest, the penultimate song she sang which had the audience in rapture was “Volver”, which you would have recognised from the movie of the same name by Pedro Almodóvar — where he has Penélope Cruz miming and Morente in fact singing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfRA1WbHuts).

    cheers

  2. flamencolover Says:

    Hi there, this sounds brilliant. I will be seeing her on the Feb 8th in Sadlers Wells, I cannot wait! Im new to flamenco and thought Id check Morente out since shes in London. im going alone! itd be great to talk to someone who knows more about flamenco and has lstened to it live before, please do not hesitate to contact me on the email provided.

  3. debora Says:

    Hello, this is Estrella’s management office. I will personally transmit a complaint to the Festival organiser about the use of mobiles during performances. Just to let you know, this was Estrella’s first performance after the untimely death of her father, the great Enrique Morente in December. It was therefore a highly emotional event both for her and flamenco followers. best regards, Debora Garber

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