Pata Negra, Lorca and Saura/Gades
I am learning to sing Pata Negra’s “Bodas de sangre “ played by a nuevo flamenco group, Raimundo & Rafael Amador, gypsy brothers from Seville. The song is in an album called Blues de la Frontera released in 1987. As the title indicates, the song is inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca’s play Bodas de sangre. He has always been my favorite poet and maybe the favorite of many flamenco lovers.
Listening to the song naturally reminds me of Lorca’s play Bodas de sangre. When I was a student, Bodas de sangre was the literature that I read most eagerly and that excited me most. Maybe this was because I had read the play in English many years ago, maybe because I had studied Lorca’s poems from the collections of Romanceros gitanos and Poema del cante jondo, and maybe because I had seen Carlos Saura’s film version Bodas de sangre. I felt I understood the play well, and it made more sense – more real, more powerful and more alive, reading it in Spanish. I was so fascinated and absorbed by Lorca’s world.
Lorca’s drama describes a rural tragedy – a frustrated life through betrayed love, excessive passion, honor, restrictions caused by family traditions in an Andalucian village in the 1930s. The play is full of Lorca’s symbolism - death, horse, horse rider, the moon and the color green.
The film director Carlos Saura and the flamenco dancer/choreographer Antonio Gades collaborated on the film, a flamenco interpretation of Lorca’s Bodas de sangre, which was first seen in 1981. The film is a beautifully made classic. One of the scenes that I always remember is where Leonardo, the man who ran away with the bride, (played by Antonio Gades) and the groom (played by Juan Antonio Jimenez) fought with knives, a dance of symbolic death, danced in complete silence in a long silence as if it were in slow motion, and at the end the palmas dramatically mark the moment of death.
I live in Hawaii, far away from Spain. At times, it is hard to feel flamenco. I miss being in my favorite places in Andalucia and I miss being close to flamenco. But when I close my eyes and listen to Pata Negra’s rumba “Bodas de sangre,” I’m immediately transported to the Andalucian village that Lorca describes. The landscape and images from Lorca’s drama appear in my mind and intertwine with imagery and music from Saura’s film. All this helps me realize that flamenco can be found not only in Spain or other places where you can find flamenco but also in myself.