Tag Archives | The Mapmaker’s Opera

Nights and Days on the Gypsy Trail (1922)

This is an image from the non-fiction volume, ‘Nights and Days On the Gypsy Trail’ published in 1922. Written by an American of Gypsy descent, Irving Brown, I finally obtained a copy of this book that I had heard about, but never actually seen available. To be fair, I was looking for a 1st. Edition and not a reprint.

Reviewer ‘Black Cat’ rated this 3 stars out of 5 on goodreads.com. This is what he says:

“The author, Irving Brown, travels to different cities in Spain looking for Spanish Gypsies: their folklore, music, customs, language and more… The book reveals the nature of the spanish gypsy: care-free, passionate, lyric, impulsive and generous with their “kind.”

Not exactly illuminating – but accurate.

I started out reading this curiosity and not very long into the book, had a distinct feeling that this book, written in purple prose, was nothing but a paen to a nostalgic view of Andalusian gypsies that never existed. But I persevered and read on a bit further.

At some point thereafter, I thought: this book is written in 1921 and who am I to pass judgement on what was the reality of Gypsy culture in Andalusia throughout this period.

With descriptions like this:

“…IMAGINE yourselves in a square cave hollowed from the rock. A little Spanish Gypsy girl is dancing an abulea to the accompaniment of a wild song and the vibrant notes of a guitar. Other Gypsies sitting tensely on the rims of their chairs, in a half circle about the dancer, are beating time with vigorous handclaps, and Continue Reading →

An Introduction To Flamenco Percussion

Flamenco PalmasI thought I would do a quick post on the basics of Flamenco Percussion, as percussion in The Mapmaker’s Opera (adapted from the novel by Béa Gonzalez) is an integral element to the sound world we create in the Musical. Contextually, we make use of the flamenco sound world especially in scenes that feature one of our main protagonists: Diego Clemente, who, in the story, emigrates to México from Seville, Spain.

Essentially Flamenco makes use of three percussive sound sources: 1. Palmas (a form of hand-clapping), 2. Pallillos (or Castanets) and 3. the Cajon. Continue Reading →

Great Trova Yucateca Musicians #1

I am learning, and writing, about great Trova Yucateca musicians in this next series of posts whilst we are in preparation to record the 10th audio demo for The Mapmaker’s Opera, adapted from the novel by Béa Gonzalez.

I’ve gone back to the rich vein of Mexican music that comes from the Yucatán peninsula, as a couple of the remaining songs in the show still to be composed, borrow from this wonderful musical milieu.

This series of posts, over a course of weeks, is going to include: Pastor Cervera, Armando Manzanero, Cirilo Baqueiro Preve “Chancil”, Ermilo Padron Lopez, Juan Acereto as well as the subject of today’s blog: Ricardo Palmerin. Continue Reading →

Part II: The Story of Opera in México (1901 – 1911)

OK, the long awaited sequel to my post on 19th-Century Opera in México!

It would come as no surprise to anyone who has been following this journey of writing The Mapmaker’s Opera Musical, as an adaptation of Béa Gonzalez’s novel, that Opera in México went through some pretty drastic changes in the first decade of the 20th-Century – this coinciding with our own story setting.

After the expulsion of the eighty-one-year-old President Porfirio Díaz in 1911, new opera works created during his régime; including perhaps not unsurprisingly the opera composers who attracted Díaz’s favourable attention, were sentenced to obloquy by the succeeding generation of revolutionary composers – if only for the crime of having won Díaz’s approval.

But is this a fair indictment of the operas written during this period? Well, again, it is hard to evaluate when there is no easy access to materials for operas such as Gustavo E. Campa’s 1901 Le Roi Poète – dealing as it does with the life of a 15th-Century poet-King, ‘Nezahualcoyotl’ of Texuco – or for that matter Ricardo Castro’s La Légende de Rudel. What does make you wonder is why Castro decided a Mexican opera should concern itself with a twelfth century troubadour? Just to make the point, this is the briefest synopsis of this opera’s unlikely storyline: Continue Reading →