Andalusians generally spend a lot of money on pilgrimages, to make their yearly visits to the Virgin much-talked-about. The pilgrimage is not just a festive consequence of a Christian eagerness (mostly for the Virgin Mary), but there are many attractions even before the beginning of the pilgrimage. Dressing in the pilgrim (romero/romera) costume is a ritual that is fulfilled in all of its senses, physical, spiritual, folk.
Getting together again with the eternal friends from the fraternity, enjoying the preparations, decorating the Simpecado (standard carried on a wheeled altar), and preparing one's own wagon and turn it into a singing cloud, leaving the quarters triumphantly, like a troop ready to conquer, on horseback with or without one's partner, among applause (like the legions of Caesar), with the sound of drums and Sevillana songs...
In the mornings Seville has a special light decorated by the slow transit of wagons drawn by patient oxen that look like creatures from another civilization. And in the place of honor is the Simpecado, which is the center of worship until the brotherhood reaches the village of Almonte along the way with singing and dancing prayers, water and wine celebrating the time that is to come. In the village the queen is the image of the Virgin, found centuries ago by a hunter.
The morning the pilgrims leave they shine more than the sun; the bells pealing with joy encourage the spring adventure, and the rest is an exhibition of a traveling popular art, of invisible loving hands. The way to the village is something else, voices drop when the city is left way behind, the pilgrims' throats are sore and their feet feel heavy, they have to measure their strength. The third act is the leiv motiv: staying in the crowded village, the sacred place of the Blanca Paloma (= White Dove, the popular name of the Virgin in this village).
The return may look like a retiring army full of emotions, but this is not so, they still have strength to sing sadly about the end of the pilgrimage until the following year, so far away...
Bar, taverns and not pubs, which is something different; the place for tapas and drinks, is like the emergency room of a hospital: it becomes gloomy or it becomes lively without anyone being able to foresee it, except at certain times for breakfast, snack time and early coffee.
Not only hunger takes us to bars, there are other more subtle reasons. We really go when we want to satisfy our spirit, either because we need to think or the opposite. A bar is always one's own territory even when we to into one for the first time, though the most important part is to get a place, always the same place, and a friend who just by looking at you when you come in can I appreciate the way you feel that day. The classical bar addict will refuse any seat, he will step on the foot rest and will lean on the bar with his elbow in natural elegance, hiking a strategic corner where he cannot bother anyone and no one will bother him.
The bar tender knows when to come up to him and when to serve at a certain distance; without any questions he will serve the beer or wine with the same calmness as a doctor handing a prescription. A good bar is a bar that entertains the five senses, though taste is the most important.
If one comes out purified from a bar after staying there for the right amount of time, not a minute more, because the bar tender will lose interest in you from that moment on; however, what most bothers him is, when you enter and leave in a stampede, in a hurry between sips and bites.
One can not always choose their company. You have to know how to handle boring people. And when you leave the bar with the unavoidable "friend" you just met, playing to he new friends with the head full of drinks, do not ask him for a business card, because after the last hug you will both be complete strangers. A bar creates this illusion, because in real world there is no one who is able to agree with me for two hours. Remember him as a picture with no name of a while in limbo.
To sum up, a bar exists for us to feel good with ourselves. Its social facet is only apparent.
Every opera has a crucial setting, without which there wouldn't be great scripts. It's not Vienna nor Paris, it is Seville. Some of the best works have Seville as setting for their plots even though their author never sat a foot in the city.
Nevertheless, the magic of that Seville which has been the most cosmopolitan in the world for 150 years, simply by hearsay, caught those writers who needed stories of passionate and impossible love unfolding in "exotic" places. Don Giovanni, Carmen, Fidelio, La Forza del Destino.. and the Barber of Seville, of course.
The author of the latter, Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, was a French playwright who was parte of the court of king Carlos III between 1764 y 1765. He came on business and left also for economic reasons as his debts increased.
Two years in Spain were enough to become fascinated by it and unleashed his creativity inspired by the exemplary novel of Miguel de Cervantes “The Jealous Husband”, the same author of Don Quixote.
Beaumarchais wrote the Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro, although the stories did not reach fame until Gioacchino Rossini and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart adapted them to the opera, respectively (well, there is a third libretto entitled The Guilty Mother with music by Milhaud which did not reach such high popularity).
In the first, Fígaro, the protagonist, is a famous barber in Seville in the late eighteen century who befriends a young nobleman, Count of Almaviva.
The aristocrat, in love with Rosina, an orphan girl who had been kidnapped by her tutor in order to marry her and keep a valuable inheritance, asks for his friend's help to meet his beloved by fooling the tight surveillance of Don Bartolo, and free her.In the second story, The Marriage of Figaro, the count and countess of Almaviva get married now,while Figaro helps them preparing for the wedding. However, this time the count betrays Figaro, by trying to seduce his betrothed Susanna, provoking Figaro who will seek revenge.
Although Beaumarchais was never in Seville, the presence of the ordinary people, their rumors and legends made the opera location seem real. A great example is Figaro's home. It was echoed up by those romantic nineteen-century travellers such as British writer Augustus Halle who, after a trip to Spain, wrote in his Wanderings in Spain (London, 1873): “Just behind the Alcazar is Santo Tomás square where Figaro the barber of Seville had his establishment... it's strange than no enterprising barber has now been installed there".
Logically, the urban landscape has now changed, but if we walk from the royal palace down to Santander street, almost at the junction with Constitution Avenue, we may stop, look at the building in front the old mint Casa de la Moneda, and replace it in our imagination with a whitewashed two storey house, maybe with arcades.
At the ground floor, Figaro would attend his customers and shaving them with unrivalled ability. Upstairs his home, where next to Count Almaviva, they both designed the strategy and tricks to free beautiful Rosina.
To experience the rest of the script firsthand, we should head to Santa Cruz and the Abbots neighborhood where narrow, labyrinthine alleys take us back centuries and where Figaro was up to his arrangements and gimmicks.
Then, we may decide to look for Don Bartolo the tutor's house, and the balcony where Rosina awaited, heard and yearned for her beloved Count of Almaviva disguised under the semblances of the poor student Lindoro.
I locate the famous house right where Camen Laffón does: calle Segovias street, where now is the Hotel Palacio Pinello, few steps from the corner with Argote de Molina street. Carmen Laffón is the stage designer of the beautiful, authentic, perfectly achieved Barber of Seville that we enjoyed last February 2016 at La Maestranza de Sevilla Opera house, during a charming Andalusia tour with Italian Tour Operator Alderan - Note in Viaggio, Rome.
Come to Seville, indulge in its magic, walk its charming little squares and alleys full of legends and stories while crooning Rossini and Mozart. Or maybe Bizet, for two streets from you, prés de remparts de Séville / chez mon ami Lillas Pastia, Carmen might be dancing the Seguidille on the tables of her friend's tavern next to the city walls! Pin your ears back and you will hear also the knocks beating the rhythm on the wooden tables while dozens of Manzanilla glasses clink in the hands. Where if this? Look for an alley called Callejón del Agua.
Many of my guests are also visiting Madrid during their trip to Spain and many ask me to recommend them a good tour guide in Madrid. Today it's my pleasure to introduce you to Gemma, from Madrid Cool & Cultural, who's sharing her passion for Madrid with a very special guest post.
Madrid: Going OUT
Madrid seemed frantic to become a copy of any other European metropolis, but now the city feels more Spanish again. Resourcefulness, creativity and reinvention are bubbling up in art galleries, designer ateliers and restaurants. The city’s symbol may be a bear, but for style, culture, history and sybaritic delights, there are plenty of reasons to be bullish on Madrid.
Are you following us?
ART- Art in Madrid is motion since the 14th till the 21st century. Allow us to astonish you with pictures to be watched through a mirror, with moving tables, with stone made characters that look real.
LIGHT- Madrid Light is magic and makes its maze-like streets change in every corner, rendering each trip unique and different. That is why it may have been an inspiration source for so many painters.
WATER – Crucial element in our original name MAGIRITH –mother of water- it made Arabs dream with its hearing and Jewish enjoy their purifying Migbés.
SHOP – From art galleries transformed into bars, to amazing artists ateliers, it’s to be included one of our favourite leather factories that was founded in Madrid in 1850. Loewe will take you to the glamourous Gran Vía where Ava Gardner used to walk up and down towards her beloved shop window.
“ Is Madrid a brave town, that with older and more modern, has it more than 100 taverns and one single bookshop in place”.
This was stated 300 years ago by one of our most distinguished neighbours and still the ratio hasn’t changed much. Traditional taverns, gastrobars and its 18 Michelin stars won’t disappoint you.
Do you trust us? Let us show you these places of the beaten path where only locals go.
Always passionate about Art and History, after living for a year in Boston, USA, she decided to turn her hobby into her profession and founded Madrid Cool & Cultural in September 2010, focused exclusively on organizing tours for small groups of artistically and culturally motivated travelers. Her tours are very creative: her experience as a traveler and lover of art, culture, and gastronomy has being extremely useful in designing a unique product, molded to the tastes of each client and the time spent in town.
founder MC&C, Madrid Cool & Cultural
M Phone: +1 857 400 0695 +34 627 594 496