Omara y El Cigala

 

There are a few performers on my personal “bucket list,” and TWO of them performed TOGETHER last night in Mazatlán! Half the city turned out to listen, and not one seat remained empty in the entire Angela Peralta Theater. In fact, most members of the press were allowed only 40 minutes to photograph the event, after which they left as they had no where to sit. The show went on for a full two hours and the performers had the house on their feet, singing and dancing. It was one large karaoke and dance fest.

Diego Ramón Jiménez Salazar, known to the world as “El Cigala,” has that deep,  echoing, passionate flamenco voice that half the world, myself included, are so fond of. He’s perhaps best known for “Lágrimas Negras” with Bebo Valdés. El Cigala is Spanish Romani, “gypsy,” born in El Rastro in Madrid. It would seem Mazatlecas are fond of that bloodline, as there were quite a few proposals and propositions shouted his way during last night’s performance. It was a joy to witness the freedom with which younger and older women alike showered their compliments on Diego while sitting right next to their loving husbands. I heard more than one woman say to another, “he is a widower, you know.” Click any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Omara Portuondo Peláez, in contrast, is Cubana, known for her clear renditions of boleros, jazz and son cubano, singer for the Buena Vista Social Club. She started as a dancer with the Cabaret Tropicana in 1950. At 87 years old Omara is nearly forty years Diego’s senior, but she is full of mischief and sparkle and made sure we knew she could still touch her toes and the floor, and swing her hips to the rhythm.

The two sang two different sets alone, and two different sets of duets; it was so much fun! We were serenaded with “Te quiero, te quiero,” “Amar y vivir,” “Lo que me queda por vivir,” “Si te contara,” “Lágrimas negras,” “Compromiso,” “Obsesión,” “Vete de mí,” “Silencio,” “Noche cubana,” “La última noche,” and “Dos gardenias para ti.” After a lengthy request for an encore, the two came out for one final song, “Bésame mucho,” like you have never, ever heard it sung before.

They were accompanied by a pair of excellent pianists (Jaime Calabuch playing for Cigala, though I preferred Omara’s pianist) , a bassist, drummer and percussionist. Sorry, but no where could I find the names of the musicians. It was truly a night to remember, and no doubt the highlight of the Festival Cultural Mazatlán 2017!