I am so happy to be back in Madrid after a two year absence.  My apartment is in Lavapies which is like East Greenwich Village and can be summed up in one word:  MULTICULTURAL.  Calle Ave Maria hosts one Hindustani restaurant after another and the rich scent of sambar and curry wafts in the air transporting me back to the India where I spent two years of my twenty-something life.  Then I come upon a row of middle eastern restaurants and tea-houses (teterias) with falafel and baba ganoush and, of course, hubbly-bubblies. ¿ Donde estoy?  Ah, si—Madrid.  Lavapies.

And FLAMENCO!  3 nights, 3 excellent shows with late nights spent at Triana Club and Bar Solea´ listening to cante until dawn.  The best show so far was a Japanese pianist, Mie Matsumura, joined by two guitarists (Juan Requena,  a favorite of mine…) and singer Jose Valencia (good not great) moving seamlessly through Falla, Granados, Albeniz and flamenco.  All this interpreted with depth, conviction, majesty and flawless technique by dancers Rafael Campallo and Leonor Leal.  Both danced all-out, solos, and, as partners exhibited a chemistry that was very moving and rarely seen to this degree.  Campallo is, in my opinion, surely one of Spain´s top dancers at this time.

The first part of the show featured Diego Amador Quinteto.  Diego is the younger brother of the Pata Negra boys, Rafael y Raimundo, and is a pianist very flamenco, managing rasgueos and alza puas somehow plus he sings extremely well, a little reminiscent of Cigala.  I was excited to hear him as I have his CDs and like him a lot—but—his show was a disappointment.  I guess I´d call it the triumph of form over substance while the second half was the triumph of substance over form.  His Taranta was the only number that inspired and his meandering falsetas became meaningless after awhile.  I´d have to say (blasphemy, I know…)he was blown off the stage the the slender, elegant Japanese woman.

Tonight, we are going to see Sara Baras, another of my very favorites.  It´ll be her interpretation of Carmen and I just hope it isn´t too presumido and over-blown.  Because, really, all I want is to watch her bulerias….