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Opening of centennial program of Peña La Perla de Cádiz with María Vargas

To honor the person and artist as deserved, the venerable Peña La Perla de Cádiz has prepared an excellent program of fifteen performances of singing, dancing, and guitar that runs until early September, filling the "little cup of silver" as the city is known with even more silver than usual.


Antonia Gilabert Vargas. La Perla de Cádiz. You say she was born 100 years ago? Come on… really? It doesn’t seem possible. We remember her so vividly, that sweet voice with the luminosity of her city’s bay and a hint of concealed sadness to enhance the flavor.

 

A housewife who one day took off her apron and left the kitchen to deliver the essence of her art to the fans who fell in love with her and placed her on a deserved pedestal as one of the most important singers of Cádiz. La Perla traveled through the major flamenco venues and festivals of her country and the rest of Europe, winning important awards from the Córdoba and Jerez competitions among others. With bulerías, alegrías and cantiñas in particular, she leaves you savoring the subtle honey of her delivery. An instinctive flamenco singer with great knowledge and a charming personality.

 

To honor the person and artist as deserved, the venerable Peña La Perla de Cádiz has prepared an excellent program of fifteen performances of singing, dancing, and guitar that runs until early September, filling the “little cup of silver” as the city is known with even more silver than usual.

 

Opening the series fell to none other than María Vargas, the renowned cantaora from Sanlúcar, now settled in Jerez, where she is greatly loved. During the most intense years of flamenco in Madrid, cousins María and Perla shared experiences, stages and living quarters, as well as joy and sorrow. On this occasion, María Vargas’s recital reflected those memories of an unforgettable era.

 

An interesting presentation about La Perla was given by flamenco expert Félix Rodríguez before María Vargas’ recital accompanied by young guitarist Paco León who complements the cantaora very well. Alegrías, fandangos, siguiriyas and bulerías, basic forms that delivered the poignant emotion provoked by high art. After a few minutes of nervousness, María got a running start and didn’t let go of the audience. The flamenco sounds that have been within her since childhood began to flow from when her father “grafted” (there’s no other word) his extensive knowledge of the best singing, inherited in turn from the legendary Tomás el Nitri, his great uncle.

 

The large audience of the packed venue was energized by María’s powerful singing which took us all back to those glorious times, now all the more poignant with the passage of time. It’s not gratuitous nostalgia, but the essence of that atmosphere that was, and continues to be a path towards the exquisite art of Perla de Cádiz.

 

At the end of María Vargas’s performance which triggered a long standing ovation, the cantaora, overcome with emotion, received the peña’s gold insignia. Youth and enthusiasm were then provided by singer Caracolillo de Cádiz, grandson of Caracol de Cádiz. His lively performance was the perfect finale to a historic and unforgettable flamenco evening.

 

Top image: La Perla de Cádiz and María Vargas. Madrid, 1960. Madrid, sixties. Photo: private archive María Vargas

 

 

María Vargas, at the tribute to La Perla de Cádiz, Peña Flamenca La Perla de Cádiz. Photo: Estela Zatania

 


Jerezana de adopción. Cantaora, guitarrista, bailaora y escritora. Flamenca por los cuatro costados. Sus artículos han sido publicados en numerosas revistas especializadas y es conferenciante bilingüe en Europa, Estados Unidos y Canadá.

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