Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Dr. Bob Prescribes: Bodas de Sangre (“Blood Wedding”)

The Enduring Magnificence of Flamenco

On Sunday, February 27, my Patreon Zoom session (which goes by the rather precious title of “The Dr. is In!”) focused on Spanish music for the piano that has been transcribed for the guitar. Co-lead and largely created by my patron Joe Sullivan, the session featured music by some of the greatest of all Spanish composers: Joaquin Turina (1882-1949), Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909), Enrique Granados (1867-1916), and Manuel de Falla (1876-1946).

What all of the music we examined had in common was that it was inspired by the flamenco tradition of Andalucía, in southern Spain.

The last piece on the program was the “Ritual Fire Dance” from Manuel de Falla’s ballet El Amor Brujo (“Love, the Magician”, or “Spell-bound Love”, or “The Bewitched Love”, 1925), which has been transcribed for two guitars by the husband/wife guitar duo, the “Duo Kupinski.” Before playing a video of the Duo Kupinski’s two guitar version, I wanted us to hear de Falla’s original, orchestral version of the “Ritual Fire Dance.” Specifically, I wanted to play the flamenco ballet version from director Carlos Saura’s film El Amor Brujo (of 1986). That film (and the “Ritual Fire Dance” in the film) features the awesome flamenco dance diva (and choreographer and actor) Cristina Hoyos (born 1946), with whom I have (sort of) been in love since I first saw her dance (on film!) in the 1980s.

Cristina Hoyos
Cristina Hoyos (born 1946)

I searched the internet for a video of the “Ritual Fire Dance” from Saura’s El Amor Brujo and was only able to come up with one link, the video of which was so awful as to be unusable. So I did something I should have done years ago: I found an app that allowed me to rip my DVD of Saura’s El Amor Brujo onto my computer, from which I could remove scenes using a video editor. Using the app, I now can share anything I want with you from my DVD collection, starting in this very post.

My original plan for today’s post was to celebrate Cristina Hoyos, and her dancing in Carlos Saura’s so-called flamenco trilogy: the films Bodas de Sangre (1981); Carmen (1983), and El Amor Brujo (1986).

But having started writing the post, I quickly realized I was biting off far too much, and that each of these remarkable movies deserves its own post. So here’s what we’re going to do. Today’s Dr. Bob Prescribes post features Bodas de Sangre. Dr. Bob Prescribes for April 5 will feature Carmen; and the May 19 post will feature El Amore Brujo. Each of these posts will feature video excerpts of the flamenco music and dancing contained in the respective movies, primarily the dancing of Cristina Hoyos and the films’ choreographer and assistant director (and principal male dancer), the equally brilliant Antonio Gades (1936-2004).…

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