Carlos Saura´s IBERIA is a celebratory tour-de-force, uniting the breathtaking discipline, skill and passionate heart of Flamenco, classical music, ballet and contemporary dance. Working with the greatest living Spanish talents, by combining them as never before, Saura has succeeded not only in drawing the best from each, but in raising them to new heights.
Inspired by the work of Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909), IBERIA is a uniquely integrated musical film. Saura's camera has been transformed into one of the performers - sharing preparations, rehearsals, the gradual birth of the acts - he conjures a dramatic and compelling universe, a world of passion and creativity.
Iberia shows the authentic musical where the story to be told is already contained in the music, and its performers should be but the musicians and dancers that will accompany it. This experience allowed Saura a degree of freedom in the approach of the images and the staging, which cannot be enjoyed when facing a play with a storyline. In Iberia, Saura's only obligation is to follow the musical rhythm, not betraying that 'inner tempo' that the execution of the dance imposes. He executes towards perfection the privilege of being the eye that can be right next to the artist as the performance develops. The camera then dances to the music.
Iberia is a recreation and reinvention of musical pieces with a stellar cast of performers including first class dancers and choreographers such as Sara Baras, Antonio Canales, José Antonio, Aida Gómez and Patrick De Bana. Musicians include the preeminent world guitarists, Manolo Sanlúcar, Gerardo Núñez and José Antonio Rodríguez; pianist Rosa Torres Pardo and Chano Domínguez and flamenco-jazz star Jorge Pardo; and the greatest living "cantaor" Enrique Morente and his extraordinary daughter Estrella Morente.
Iberia journeys the viewer through a whole day -and its night- of music and dance. The convergence of classical ballet, contemporary, Spanish dance, and flamenco hold hands and become the key pieces of the film. The artistic design, also conceived by Saura, has a dramatic impact; minimalist but rich in details, mixing for the first time in a film, live video projections with creative lighting and photography.
The filming of the rehearsal and preparation time, precisely the process that Saura likes most, acts as interludes in which the acts begin to take shape, the steps become clearer, the space is set in order, the lights change and the rhythms are determined. This is what makes each piece alive, latent and real allowing the director to get from the artists their more personal and fascinating aspects.
Carlos Saura is a prolific film director whose filmography includes over 30 pictures. Saura brought his interest for flamenco into some of his works: Bodas de Sangre (1981), Carmen (1983), El Amor Brujo (1985), Sevillanas (1991) and Flamenco (1995). In the first three, Carlos Saura counted on the assistance of Antonio Gades, who took part as a choreographer and scriptwriter, and on the dancing of Cristina Hoyos.
Out of the three, Carmen may be the one that has been most highly valued, particularly abroad, and it mustn't be forgotten that it was nominated for the Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Picture (that is, not in English) category. In the film, he adapts Bizet's opera to the cinema and to the world of flamenco. Flamenco (1995) is one of the greatest tributes that this genre of singing and dancing has ever been paid, and it is probably one of Saura's most famous pictures. Although all his films that are devoted to flamenco count on the appearance of the most important figures of the period, this one sees over a hundred renowned artists parade before the camera, some of whom are veritable geniuses of flamenco singing and dancing: Paco de Lucía, Manolo Sanlúcar, Lole y Manuel, Remedios Amaya, Ketama, Joaquín Cortés, Manzanita among others.
Saura has undoubtedly reaped great success and prestige in the world of cinema: he is acknowledged as one of the best Spanish film directors and enjoys worldwide fame. He is also a very prolific creator, who doesn't just direct, but also writes his own screenplays, produces his movies and, on a few occasions, has also acted in them. His extensive filmography follows some very different directions. One of its most famous strands is that of musical cinema, where Saura himself argues that he feels very comfortable because of the freedom and the possibilities for experimenting that it offers. This is the genre to which some of his best known movies belong, like Bodas de Sangre, Carmen and El Amor Brujo, films in which flamenco plays a leading role. Saura has also expressed his fascination for some great historic figures through his cinema work. In 1999, he shot Goya en Burdeos (Goya in Bordeaux), which focuses on the painter's exile in Bordeaux. In El dorado (1988) Saura recounts the tragic story of Lope de Aguirre - aka The Wrath of God (c.1515-1561)-, a Spanish "conquistador" who sought the legendary El Dorado and ended up declaring war on Spain. None of the subjects that Saura presents leaves audiences unmoved. His films delve deep into universal feelings, into the great human passions. On other occasions, it is the so-called España Profunda (an expression to refer to deep, raw and quintessential Spanish characteristics) that comes forth in his scenes. This is the case in El séptimo día (2004), in which he re-creates a tragic settling of scores between families, that is based on a real-life event (in Puerto Urraco, Badajoz, in 1990). His career as a film director has enjoyed some important acknowledgements. La Caza won the Silver Bear award in the Berlin Film Festival in 1965, as did Pippermint Frapé in 1967; Cría cuervos won a special award from the jury in the San Sebastián Film Festival. Furthermore, Carmen and Mamá cumple cien años have had Oscar nominations for the best foreign language picture. He has also won the European Film Academy Award in 2004.
SARA BARAS (dancer)
The most prestigious bailaora at an international level, and she has already undertaken an intense activity which includes performances all over the world. She learned how to dance from her mother, Concha Baras, and she already started to excel when she joined the company of guitarist Manuel Morao in 1989. Her talent was rewarded with important awards like the Madroño Flamenco of Montellano (Seville), the first prize in the television programme-contest Gente Joven on TVE (Spain´s public television broadcating company) and later, in 1999 and in 2001, she received the Max prize for the Best Female Dance Performer. She has worked with Antonio Canales on Gitano, and with El Güito in the Chatele Theatre in Paris. She has danced with Manuel Morao in the Seville Expo in 92 and later, they repeated the show in the Cartuja auditorium and in the Town Hall Theatre in New York. As a solo dancer, Sara Baras took part in several tributes to Camarón de la Isla, who had been her artistic sponsor. In 1994, she danced in the Seville Biennial fair and toured Asia. In 1997, she started her own company, with which she closed the Festival Nacional de Cante de las Minas. The first shows staged were Sensaciones (1998) and Sueños (1999). Afterwards, Sara Baras entered the world of drama with Juana la Loca(2001) and Mariana Pineda (2002). She entered also the areas of television, cinema and fashion shows. In 1998 she presented the programme Algo más que Flamenco on TVE. In July 1999, in the Patio of the Casa Pilatos in Seville, she participated in Mission Impossible II, starring Tom Cruise. As a model, she has walked down the catwalk for Amaya Arzuaga in the Fashion Week in London and for Francis Montesinos in the Pasarela Cibeles in Madrid, and in Lisbon. With her company, she has also presented an underwear collection by Triumph, and she was featured in the catalogue of Cartier Jewels
ANTONIO CANALES (dancer)
The son of a dancer and nephew of a cantaor, it was written in his genes that he would become someone important in the world of flamenco. He was a solo dancer in the National Ballet for three years and he worked in several companies before setting up his own one. He danced on stages all over the world with famous artists such as Rudolph Nureyev, Maya Plisetskaya and Julio Bocca, with whom he shared the Mexico City Prize for the Best International Dancer in 1990. Two years earlier, in Italy, he was awarded the Navisela Prize for the Best Dancer. In 1992, Antonio Canales set up his own company and made his debut in Bilbao. With Torero, a show presented in Canada in 1993, he obtained the Premio Nacional de Danza (National Dance Prize) in 1995, and was a runner up for the position of director of the Ballet Nacional de España. He has also received the Medalla de Andalucía and the Max Prize for the Best Dance Show for Gitano, the work that proved to be Sara Baras' launchpad to stardom. A tireless creator, he brought several works to the stage: Bengues (1998), Guernica (1988), Raiz, Fuerza Latina, La Cenicienta... He took part in the recording of the album De Akí A Ketama with the band Ketama. He also worked in cinema: he played an important part in Montoyas y Tarantos, which was an Oscar nominee in 1990, he starred in Vengo in 1999 and has recently filmed Duende
MANOLO SANLUCAR (guitarist)
Together with Paco de Lucía and Serranito, he revolutionised concert guitar playing in the twentieth century. His ability to innovate and his continuous search for new possibilities have led him to compose works that have a strong personal emphasis, which is always related to what he calls learned music, but without losing its Andalusian flavour. In fact, he was the first artist who brought flamenco to the Teatro Real in Madrid. Fantasia para guitarra y orquesta, Trebujena, Medea and Soleá -which were performed by the Ballet Nacional de España- Tauromagia and Aljibe are some of his works. Several young artists who are now great guitarists were once his protegés, like Vicente Amigo and Rafael Riqueni. He took his first steps in music with his father, the amateur Isidro Sanlúcar, who took him to Seville when he was a boy so that he could be heard by Pepe Pinto, who recommended him to Pepe Marchena, with whom he took part in his first tour as a professional. Later, he was to accompany other artists like La Paquera de Jerez, María Vargas, Porrina de Badajoz and Agujetas. In the sixties, he joined the group of resident artists in the tablao Las Brujas in Madrid, and he recorded his first album as a solo artist. After a productive artistic relationship with Enrique Morente, when he was not yet twenty, he composed his trilogy Mundo y formas de la guitarra with which he reached his artistic peak. The rumba Caballo negro earned him fame. As a result of this impressive trajectory he was awarded the Premio Nacional de Música in 2001. In 1999, he recorded Locura de Brisa y Trino, after it was unveiled in the Biennial festival in 1998, with Carmen Linares singing. He also took part in the film Sevillanas by Carlos Saura, alongside his friend Paco de Lucía. Recently, Manolo Sanlúcar has composed the music for Sara Baras' show entitled Mariana Pineda
JOSE ANTONIO (dancer)
Born in Madrid, José Antonio began to study dance at a very early age and debuted in Buenos Aires when he was eight years old. His career in Spain began in 1964 in the Compañía de María Rosa. One year later he joined the company Antonio y los Ballets de Madrid as the lead dancer. In the years following, his intense artistic activity included performances in the La Scala in Milan and Bologna's Teatro Comunale. His career as a choreographer began in 1972, when he founded his own company with Luisa Aranda, Ballet Siluetas. In 1978, when the Spanish National Ballet (BNE) was founded under the direction of Antonio Gades, José Antonio joined the company as a lead dancer. In 1982 he accepted the position of co-director and principal dancer of the Spanish Ballet of Madrid. Three years later he returned to the Spanish National Ballet as the star dancer and in 1986 he was appointed to direct the company. Two years later, the National Ballet staged a successful engagement at the Metropolitan Theatre in New York, for which it was awarded the Critic's Prize for the Best Foreign Performance (1988). In 1992, he choreographed two pieces for the Seville Universal Exhibition, poet Rafael Alberti's La Gallarda, and dancer Antonio Gala's La Truhana. Two years later he founded José Antonio y los Ballets Españoles, which debuted with three of his own dance creations. His ballets have been staged around the world, from Cuba to St Petersburg. And he has performed with internationally renowned dancers: Julio Bocca, Carla Fracci and Makanova, to name a few. Recently, he choreographed and produced Goya divertissement (Kirov Theatre), El Corregidor y la Molinera (Granada Festival) and La Gitana (Teatro di Verona). In 1997, playwright and theatre director Francisco Nieva asked him to choreograph La Vida Breve for the re-opening of Madrid's Royal Theatre; he was appointed to direct both the Andalusian Dance Centre and the Dance Company of Andalusia (CAD), likewise in 1997, the same year that he was awarded the National Prize for Dance. He has continued to choreograph ballets for different companies in the following years. In 2002 he choreographed Carlos Saura's Salomé for Aida Gómez. He assumed the direction of the Spanish National Ballet in 2004.
ENRIQUE MORENTE (singer)
Granada, 1942. His creative inkling led him to renew the forms of flamenco expression. He used to say it was boring to always do the same thing. "Orthodoxy, I am convinced, is something I like, but I believe it should serve to invite one to see new shores, new paths and, if this is done in a sincere, honest way, it will always be of use to have new experiences. When new things are attempted, not everything will go perfectly and turn out right because there is always a risk. This is a live music, it is not music inside a museum". When he was still young, in the cathedral of Granada, he became very fond of the cante and in his early youth decided to go to Madrid, "because it was the capital, the centre and it was inevitable to go there". In Madrid he frequented the flamenco scene, with such old singers as Pepe el de la Matrona and Bernardo el de los Lobitos. His first record came out in 1967 with an absolutely orthodox style where he also proved a knowledge of traditional cante that few singers of his generation could achieve. Later one, when he became fully committed to his battle to renew flamenco, he went back to orthodox cante, as in 1977 in his Homenaje a Don Antonio Chacón, or in 1990 in Morente-Sabicas. His third record, Homenaje flamenco a Miguel Hernández (1971), was the first significant call to attention to the use of verses by literary poets as cuplés for his song. He is, by far, the singer who has borrowed most from the poets: in addition to Hernández, San Juan de la Cruz, García Lorca, Al Mutamid, los Machado, Lope de Vega, Bergamín, Garfias, Guillén and many more. His creative genius has many other facets. He does not know how to write music, but he has composed works for theatre, films and television. His Fantasía de Cante Jondo have admirably integrated classical music in flamenco. He created a flamenco mass that is different from everything previous in the genre "Flamenco is linked to many themes and sometimes dogmas and confusions that do not allow the ear freedom appear." In spite of his detractors his art has survived and as a singer he is probably the most influential personality on the professional flamenco scene. He has also experimented with new music such as the band Lagartija Nick, with whom he has recorded Lorca's poetry in an album called Omega.
ESTRELLA MORENTE (singer)
Madrid, 1980. With roots in Madrid and Granada, Estrella has been a greatly acclaimed singer since her debut in Madrid at the age of 17. She had impressed the public with her interpretations of seguiriya, soleá, malagueña, and taranta and the enchantment grew ever since. She offers ancient inspiration combined with youthful enthusiasm, and has generated great expectation in aficionados as well as the music industry. Perhaps this comes from her childhood experiences, listening to the singing of her grandfather Montoyita or from her father, Enrique Morente. In any case, her excellent rhythmic sense, her personal melismas, and the intelligence of her personality show us only authentic art. She has participated in festivals such as the Festival de Verano in Barcelona, the Festival Internacional de Música y Danza in Granada, and the Festival de Otoño in Madrid. She has also collaborated in many tours with Enrique Morente, among them, a tour with Lagartija Nick for the promotion of the album Omega.
ROSA TORRES PARDO (pianist)
Born in Madrid, she studied music with Gloria Olalla while attending the royal Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Madrid, with Joaquin Soriano. She graduated and was awarded the "Premio Extraordinario Fin de Carrera". She furthered her studies with Maria Curcio in London, Adele Marcus at the Julliard School of Music in New York and Hans Graff in Vienna. In 1986 she obtained the Masterplayers Price of Lugano (Switzerland). She has worked as a soloists with conductors such as Vladimir Spivakov, V. Fedoseev, M. Pletnev, M. Ermler, Jean Fournet, J.B. Pommier, J. Gerogiadis, L. Leighton Smith, G. Navarro, G. Asencio, Herrera de la Fuente, Suteg, and Victor Pablo Perez. She has participated in important international festivals, and her performances included appearances at the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York, Kennedy Center in Washington, City Hall in Hong Kong, Teatro Real in Madrid, "Colonny Zal" in Moscow, etc. In 1994 she performed with Placido Domingo, acting in his capacity as Artistic Director, for the King and Queen's gala in the national Auditorium of music in Madrid. She has recorded for radio and television in Moscow, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, and Spain.
CHANO DOMINGUEZ (pianist)
Cádiz, 1960. His father, a great fan of Flamenco, gave Chano a guitar when he was only eight years old. In this way he was introduced to music. At the age of twelve he started singing in his church choir, which allowed him to secretly start playing the church's old pipe organ. The sound of the piano impressed him so much that he began playing folkloric groups as well as in more commercial bands. At age 18 he formed CAI, and with them recorded his first album. CAI was one of the major forces in the musical movement known as "rock andaluz". Two albums later in 1981, the group broke up, at the time when Chano started his switch towards Jazz. In the eighties, he began playing with the mythical Spanish group Hiscadiz, which made a leap on the international Jazz scene. After an intense time playing in festivals and theatres all over the world, he edited his first solo album with the collaborations of Carles Benavent, "El Bola", Jore Pardo, etc. Chano is a pianist immersed in various cultures, with a very wide spectrum of work.
AIDA GOMEZ (dancer)
Madrid, 1967. A gifted woman, Aida Gomez's started to dance at an early age, learning flamenco techniques at the age of seven and classical ballet four years later. Her mother encouraged and supported her, thinking that she would get tired of dancing, but that never happened. She joined the Spanish National Ballet in 1981. During her first season she became a soloist. Her talent was indeed so outstanding that at the age of 17 she became the principal dancer of the Spanish National Ballet Company. In 1996 she joined flamenco dance legend Joaquín Cortes as a guest star and in 1997 she moved to Lausanne to teach Spanish dance at Maurice Bejart's school. While teaching in Switzerland, she decided to create her own dance company to showcase both soloists and the ensemble. Shortly after she got a call from to return to Spain as artistic director of the Spanish National Ballet. She accepted and soon revamped the repertoire and the dancers. So, as part of her precocious achievements, when she reached the age of 32, she was appointed to the position of director of the Spanish National Ballet Company, the youngest ever. She stayed in that position from 1998 until 2001. While she was directing it, the National Ballet, with the new millennium in mind, prepared in 1999 a very special programme composed of a flamenco suite, the ballet Oripando created by young choreographers, a new version of the mythical Carmen created by José Antonio and two pieces set to original music by Dorantes, Semblanzas by her and A ciegas created by Antonio Canales specially for Aida Gomez. She has played Salomé in the film by Carlos Saura where she also choreographed the dances of the film. Her company is one of the best and most famous in Spain.
ROQUE BAÑOS (composer)
In addition to numerous Spanish credits, Roque Baños also wrote the music for Jonathan Glazer's critically acclaimed British gangster film Sexy Beast, starring Ben Kingsley and The Machinist starring Christian Bale. His other films have included Carlos Saura's internationally acclaimed Goya in Bordeaux and Salomé.
ABOUT ALBENIZ AND THE SUITE IBERIA & ESPAGNOLA
A pianist and composer, the Spanish musician Isaac Albeniz (1860 - 1909) was a leading figure in the creation of a national style of composition in Spain. Although he wrote operas, including a King Arthur to English words, songs and orchestral music, he is best known for his piano music, some of which has been arranged by others for orchestra. A renowned concert pianist, Albeniz created a national style of composition in such celebrated piano collections as the Suite espanola, Cantos de Espana, and Iberia. He also fostered the development of Spanish nationalism in the concerto, orchestral music, and opera. He was thus the first composer to put into successful practice the nationalist precepts of his mentor Felip Pedrell. Moreover, he incorporated contemporary French and German trends into his Spanish style in order 'to create Spanish music with a universal accent', as he said. In so doing he pointed the way for Falla, Turina, and Rodrigo, the dominant figures of twentieth-century Spanish composition. The music for piano includes the four books of the Suite Iberia, the Suite Española, Op. 47, Twelve Characteristic Pieces (12 piezas caracteristicas), Op. 92 and Recuerdos de viaje, Op. 71. Some of the piano pieces by Albéniz have been orchestrated. These include three pieces from the Suite Iberia, and Navarra, left unfinished at the composer's death, orchestrated by Arbos, and other colourful arrangements.
NOTES FROM THE DIRECTOR: SAURA ON IBERIA
Once again I face the magical combination between music and the camera which fascinates me so much and which reaches its zenith in the musical. Although it is true that this cinematographic form may adopt many other forms, the one I prefer, as I consider it represents its purest form (with all my respect to any other approximation) is that which is not overcome by any artificial narrative reasoning. This experience I could fortunately develop in Sevillanas, Flamenco and recently Salomé, allows me a degree of freedom in the approach of the images and the staging, which cannot be enjoyed when facing a play with a storyline.
It is needless to mention the talented Rosa Torres-Pardo. We could make this musical just with her on the piano. But that would mean missing out on the opportunity to achieve something else: the inclusion of the great musical talents we have in our country. In this respect, I must thank her willingness to carry out a little 'treachery' to her career as renown concert pianist and thank her for her generosity in accepting the fact that there is the contribution of some other musicians of other instruments such as: guitar, cello, violin, and percussion box in some parts of this 'Iberia'.
Flamenco is powerful, strong and racial. I am constantly surprised by the fascination it produces in foreign spectators due to its strength and mystery.
Scenery and light
Both elements are intrinsically related. The idea of an 'alive' scenery, a space that, with the use of the panels may vary its volumes, according to the moment, the dance, the musicians taking part in the work, has its origins in my idea that any 'atrezzo' or supporting elements distract the attention from the real main character of the performance: the artists. The main problem of adapting the dance to the cinema is that in our environment it is impossible to 'see' two actions at the same time. In a theatre it is easy to move from one area, where an action is taking place, to another one and still be able to follow two moments 'taking place at the same time'. But the eye is the best camera of cinema ever invented. In the cinematographic reality it is not possible to change so freely. We have to choose. And this always results in one of the most painful decisions: what fragment shall stay in the montage basket and what shall stay on the screen. However, a new world opens up throughout the video projections on the panels.
I have talked previously about the freedom guaranteed by a musical. Freedom, which, obviously, depends on the technique. There are cases, as happens with the flamencos, when the technique must become subordinate to the 'moment' of the artist. The flamencos do not know exactly why they suddenly feel fine and why ten minutes later they cannot find the point they had before. Their art is not 'ruled', it cannot be standardized. This is why, in these cases our obligation is to be always ready to react without hesitation, as soon as magic arises. The camera must 'dance' to the music. That is my job: to ensure that the camera is not an illustrator of what is happening in front of it, but my eye, my point of view, my perception of how that dance should be seen.