Having extensively previewed the recent Canari Music and Arts Festival delivered at four different locations on these pages over the past month or so we were looking forward to bringing you a report on an event that promised much. The Festival was to be delivered over four different locations over four separate days.
Concerts by The Divine Comedy, a much loved chart band in the UK from the eighties and nineties clever and witty pop band, and support from a handful of Spanish, Canarian and European music were promised on the Festival web site and various other social media outlets. Readers might recall that we nevertheless commented on how difficult it seemed to piece together all the fragments of information into any kind of cohesive itinerary or timetable. Nevertheless we purchased two tickets at thirty Euros each for the day scheduled for Castillo De Jose in Arrecife, assuming that further information would become available before the event.
On the morning of the event we learned that we could only approach the venue on park and ride buses travelling from The Cabildo up to the castle. Doors were said to be opening from five thirty pm with the transport running every forty minutes. We had our tickets but had not been allocated seats, if indeed any seating was included. Nor could even Mr. Google find any info about what times the artists would be appearing.
We gave it up as a bad job. To a couple of aging reporters in their seventies, Dee and I gave it up as a bad job, and settled for an early night in what was a very busy week. Sorry.
In fact this was only part of the what cricketers call the corridor of uncertainty. We found ourselves double-booked a couple of nights later, but were delighted that our two best under-cover investigative journalists offered to stand in for us and attend a night at the opera
Aka DSI Cannottbenamed and DCI Willnotbenamed, our equivalent of Woodward and Bernstein, produced the following.
II Lanzarote Opera Festival
LA BOHÈME by G. Puccini
Tias, Lanzarote, November 2023
This Opera is Traditionally set in what might be an attic, or an atelier d´artistes in the Latin quarter of Paris;
It’s Christmas Eve. Rodolfo and Marcello complain about the biting cold. They burn the manuscript of Rodolfo’s latest work and both, along with their friend Colline, enjoy the brief warmth of the fire. Schaunard arrives with wood, food and wine that he has earned working for an eccentric Englishman. The friends plan to go to eat in the Latin Quarter, but are interrupted by Benoît, their landlord, who demands payment of the rent. They offer him wine, and when Benoît brags about his sexual prowess, they pretend to be outraged and throw him out. Marcello, Colline and Schaunard leave, leaving Rodolfo alone to finish an article. A young woman knocks on the door and asks for a light for her candle. As she leaves, the candle goes out again and she realizes that she has lost her key. When they are looking for her together, Rodolfo’s candle also goes out. He tells the young woman about her life as a poet. She tells him her name, Mimì, and describes her day by day as an embroiderer. Schaunard, Colline and Marcello shout from the street to Rodolfo to hurry up. Mimì asks if she could join them at Café Momus, and they leave together.
The Latin quarter. Rodolfo and Mimì wander among the Christmas Eve crowd. Rodolfo introduces Mimì to his friends. When they sit down to dinner, Musetta, Marcello’s ex-girlfriend, appears with Alcindoro, her rich admirer. Musetta decides to seduce Marcello and starts singing. She then complains that her foot hurts and sends Alcindoro to buy her some new shoes. She and the Bohemians quickly leave, leaving Alcindoro to pick up the tab for everyone.
On the other side of the Barrière d’Enfer. The workers arrive at the gates of the city. Mimì meets Marcello at the door of a tavern. When she finds out that Rodolfo is into her, she becomes very agitated and tells Marcello that Rodolfo’s jealousy is ruining her relationship. When Rodolfo appears, she hides. Rodolfo tells Marcello that Mimì’s flirtations have him outraged. But he soon reveals the real reason for his separation from her: she is very sick and he is too poor to help her. They hear Mimì crying and coughing. Rodolfo runs towards her while Marcello, wary of Musetta’s flirtatious laughter, hurries into the inn. While Marcello and Musetta quarrel and separate, Rodolfo and Mimì decide to postpone their separation until spring.
Theattic; it is autumn. Marcello and Rodolfo pretend not to miss their old girlfriends, but admit that they do. Schaunard and Colline arrive with bread and a herring, and the four of them eat and joke with each other. Musetta suddenly enters. He has brought with her Mimì, who is hopelessly ill: Musetta explains that she has implored him to take her to Rodolfo. Mimì appears and greets her friends. Musetta asks Marcello to sell her earrings so she can buy medicine and pay a doctor. Colline leaves with Schaunard to pawn her coat. Mimì, alone with Rodolfo, expresses her unlimited love for him and her lovers remember their first meeting. The others return with a cuff and medicine, promising that a doctor will come, but Mimì dies without them realizing while they are preparing the medicine.
Tonight´s Opera House was replaced by Terrero de Lucha Canaria in Tias, a venue that was first built as a wrestling arena, that being a very popular sport on Lanzarote. We usually like to eat somewhere prior to a concert but when we arrived in Tias at 5.30 for a 7.00 pm start we could it seemed to be sleepy time in town. We found a place where could order a mal, but had to leave it unfinished as we ran out of time despite the best efforts of the skeleton staff working at this time.
So we walked across town to the a venue shaped as a semi-ampitheatre and has around 300 seats, with all the rows so elevated as to afford an unobstructed view of what is quite a huge stage.
This version of this much-loved Opera, however, had been promoted as a Garage Opera, and it became apparent why as soon as we took our seats and saw a set in a mis-en-scene lay-out of a car mechanic’s garage, which also lent a freshness of approach.
That also included the full orchestra that usually accompanies performances of La Boheme being replaced by a single musician,…at the piano, and he played non-stop, brilliantly, for the duration of the performance.
The vocal performers all delivered well and the acting was energetic, and this was all deserving of a full house rather than what we estimated as being only half full. Perhaps the slightly avant garde approach, the less-than-traditional venue and the surfeit of events, including road runner races and food festivals going on around the island, had an impact, too.
It was, though, an excellent delivery by all concerned.
We were so pleased to receive the above report from our two super sleuths that we decided to honour them with our company at the Saborea Festival in Villa Teguise a few days later.
The tenth edition of Saborea Lanzarote, the annual food festival held here on the island. This 2023 event seemed bigger than ever with seemingly far more tasting areas, chef´s presentations and even video accompaniments. It was all very ´Master Chef´ and it drew ´more than 50 thousand people and in fact we have heard estimates that 420 thousand drinks were sold during the weekend.
Despite having lived here now for eight years we are always amazed at how peaceful these kind of events seem to be. At least 90% of the crowd were indigenous people we would guess, and Lanzarote people are smiley, patient people and walking amongst fifty thousand of these people was a far cry from jostling around at a Bolton Wanderers football match.
People chatted and queued as they waited to redeem some tickets for some tasters at the stalls of scores of restuarnts and bodegos. There was live music outside and girls in their summer clothes were dancing occasionally with their man, but mostly with each other.
The castle that lookdown and protects Villa Teguise was etched against a clear blue sky, as we stopped to friends we hadn´t seen for years, some even from England, with all of us enthusing over whar a superb event this was.
Three tokens bought a plate of beef paella of restaurant proportions and fantastic ice cream dessert.
We were thrilled to recognise so many of the participating restaurants we have frequented in the past from shore line snack bars to Michelin Star society places.
Because of the pandemic lockdows, this event has not been held for the last three years, snd it was fantastic to see the island population welcoming it back like an old friend.
We set off home already looking forward to next year’s event.