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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Mena

The elusive gypsy

Updated: Feb 24, 2019

The first time I was introduced to Carmen, I was living in San Juán, Puerto Rico. I was attending middle school, and studying both ballet and flamenco. One weekend, our homework was to watch the Carlos Saura gypsy trilogy: Bodas de sangre, Carmen and El amor brujo. The minute I heard la Seguidilla in the opening credits, I knew I had to play the gypsy. Had no idea how that was going to manifest, since I wasn't a singer at the time. I just knew it was going to happen someday, somehow. Many years later, now living in the Bay Area, I had, what can only be described as, a bizarre incident involving Carmen at the Valley Fair Mall. Yes, a mall, of all places. And it was this experience that finally got me in a studio to study voice.

Well...the road to the role of Carmen has been long, arduous, and bittersweet, to say the least. So much so, that I put her away for a while. In 2012, I had the blessing of performing Candela in the gitanería, El amor brujo, with the Palo Alto Philharmonic. Didn't think this work would come first and, as a more obscure one, I was thrilled to be singing it. I felt an immediate connection to her, and also saw De Falla's stunning piece as a precursor to La Carmencita. Yet, when it came to the role Carmen, nothing changed.....

Today, as I work on "Chanson Bohème", I feel happy to be spending time with her again. Looking back, I'm grateful for the experience of flamenco. Grateful for my short time with the community in both Alicante (gracias, Trini), and in South Florida. And most of all, grateful for the time spent with my parents visiting the places where the story of Carmen took place, after they retired to the south of Spain. If I ever get to do this role, it will be for them....

As Candela in "El amor brujo"

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