Photo: Mª José López and Jacob Guerrero. Author Javier del Real
Coinciding with the tenth anniversary of the death of Antonio Gades, his Foundation undertook a challenge of special transcendence: to put the version of El Amor Brujo which, under the title Fuego, was the second time that Gades staged Manuel de Falla's ballet.
Exponent of the purest Gades trademark, "back to tradition if you want to evolve", this ballet is a transitional work between the now legendary productions of Carmen and Fuenteovejuna. It was also the last of legendary flamenco duo Gades/Saura, and followed the same pattern as Carmen: first the film and then the ballet. Gades said:
...The stage version is very different from the film. Carlos and I tell a different story. We use the soundtrack for the film sung by Rocío Jurado with the Spanish National Orchestra directed by Maestro Jesús López Cobos, but we changed the order of the sections to which I added flamenco and a lot of popular music that is not in the film…
Returning to the genesis of the work, it is important to know that the choreographer was going through a difficult personal situation. In addition to his divorce from his then wife, Pepa Flores, Gades was dealing with his father's death and the tragic death of his brother, Enrique, who had been a member of the company up to his death. Tired also from the incessant tours of his ballet around the world, he decided to take a break from the stage. This was the beginning of a period of rest and reflection for Gades that ended in 1989 after being called back to work by several artistic projects, including the inauguration of the Cairo Opera, participation in the commemoration of the ten-year anniversary of the Spanish National Ballet and, putting the definitive end to his hiatus, a commission by the Teatro de Châtelet in Paris to perform the ballet Fuego. Gades' mood is reflected in the production, which tries to distance itself from the fantasy of the original script by telling the story of a mental disorder set in a dark, dreamlike atmosphere.
Premiered in 1989, Fuego captivated the Parisian audiences who attended the debut performances of the ballet. An extensive tour of France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Brazil followed the premiere. But Gades had not fully recovered and was still in pursuit of the balance he needed to perform on stage and the energy to lead and run a company. He wanted to fully engage again with life and with the sea, where he finds the strength and inspiration that he needs as an artistic craftsman. Thus, the production was never released in Spain. The briefness of its existence allows us to approach a work of Gades today almost as if it were the first time. Many of the resources that were put in place have never been repeated, and today provide a surprise that keeps the production fresh.
Antonio Gades knew how to surround himself and work together with outstanding professionals on his productions: Carlos Saura, Gerardo Vera, the Maestro Jesús López Cobos, and Rocío Jurado are some of the important names he brought together for the stage production of Amor Brujo. He also worked with dance teacher Goyo Montero, lighting designer Dominique You (today technical director of the Antonio Gades Company), and Stella Arauzo, today the company's artistic director.
The Spanish premiere of Fuego took place on July 6 at the Teatro de la Zarzuela and featured the Community of Madrid Orchestra, directed by Maestro Miguel Ortega. All of us who worked on bringing this production back to the stage threw our energy into this moment. We gave our knowledge, our history, our work, and, above all, that which connects us to people the world over and makes dance relevant despite the moments of enormous difficultly that the art is facing: the passion for one of the most authentically universal languages, "the dance".