MADRID / A Three Kings Gala with humor, emotions and great music

MADRID / A Three Kings Gala with humor, emotions and great music

Madrid. Monumental Theater. 5-I-2023. Kings Gala. José Manuel Zapata, tenor, script, musical direction and presentation. Juan Francisco Padilla, arrangements, musical direction and script. Paco Mir, stage direction and script. RTVE Symphony Orchestra and Choir. Selection of greatest hits from classical, pop and rock music.

Kings Gala. Monumental Theatre, up to the flag. Although the matter was not about bullfights —someone says it because of ‘hasta la bandera’, come on, the theater was packed—, José Manuel Zapata from Granada grabbed the bull by the horns and acted as master of ceremonies, tenor and conductor. Lots of music and lots of humor. A friendly and white humor, not exempt from satire and criticism of the times in which one can waste hours sliding the index finger on the mobile screen while watching countless short videos -mostly nonsense videos- on Instagram or Tick-Tock. The concert —perhaps it would be more appropriate to say ‘show’— was broadcast live on RTVE’s La2, so those who want to have a good time can visit the RTVE website and play it as many times as they want. Trust me, you will find it funny and emotional. It was the first time one had seen something like this at the Teatro Monumental: we were all actors and singers who participated in the show, from the choir members and orchestra teachers to the audience. Those who did not participate is because they really did not want to. Opportunities were not lacking! The musical arrangements were by guitarist Juan Francisco Padilla from Almería —no, he didn’t play the guitar, he just made some magnificent arrangements— and the stage direction was by Paco Mir from Barcelona, ​​one of the members of the Tricicle theater company. Works by Verdi, Johann Strauss Jr., Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Rossini, di Capua, U2, AC/DC… Very varied, yes, and without complexes!

The concert began with an evocation of the well-known Welcome of Miguel Ríos, ‘granaíno’ like Zapata. Do you remember? Good evening, welcome sons of rock and roll… Zapata began by singing the chorus “bwelcome” and requesting public participation. Instead of singingto the sons of rock and roll”, Zapata changed it to “to Beethoven, Mozart and Bach”. It was thus clear from the beginning that the public was going to play an important role in this gala made up exclusively of encores which, as Zapata ironically pointed out, “for encores… for those who have no culture: great successes”. Great classic hits, because that’s what that piece of orchestra and that piece of choir from RTVE were there for, but also some pop and rock hits.

The show reminded one of those hilarious galas that the Danish pianist Victor Borge did in the 70s of the last century. There were hilarious moments. More than one person let out a few laughs during the show. One also says it because of the gentleman who was sitting next to him and who did not stop laughing with one of those deep and slow voices a la Arturo Reverter (for those who do not know who Arturo Reverter is, change it to Darth Vader or Constantino Romero). A slow motion laugh… Whoa, whoa, whoa!

The writer Stefan Zweig wrote a wonderful book that he called Stellar moments of humanity. One, who is not Zweig, so as not to bore you, will tell you about the stellar moments of the Three Kings Gala. Stellar and comical, like that when the chorus danced to the sound of the Macarena of Los del Río in the style of Mozart or when the orchestra interpreted the famous overture of William Tell by Rossini, but not as it is commonly known: it was the orchestra masters who sang it out loud to the rhythm of “paraban, paraban, paraban, pampan”, who were later joined by the choir with the kazoos, those typical wind instruments of the Cádiz carnival. The triumphal march of the opera aida de Verdi was also hilarious with the trumpeter Antón Borja playing the famous drunken trumpet solo that misses a note. By the way, one could hear Borja interpret Bach in the Royal Chapel a couple of weeks ago. A trumpeter like the top of a pine tree!

Another very funny moment was when the orchestra played the Radetzky March Directed by one of those dolls that abound in Chinese stores, yes, those fortune kittens, golden in color, that mechanically move their paws up and down. Was it really a satire on the role of the conductor? Because the truth is that the march sounded with the traditional clapping of the public to the rhythm imposed by the little golden animal.

Likewise, stellar was the potpourri he threw with the base of the well-known Canyon by Pachelbel, in a magnificent arrangement by Juan Francisco Padilla. Here pop music themes were mixed with a lot of comic vision: go west by Pet Shop Boys, no woman no cry of Bob Marley, Let it be of The Beatles and With or without you of U2, where there was no shortage of mobile lights to the sound of music. The choir shone!

I also really liked the parody to the rhythm of the Aria of Bach from the noises that are usually made in concert halls: coughs, the candy wrapper that is unwrapped disturbing others, the use of mobile phones… But without a doubt, the stellar moment of the night was highway to hell of AC/DC. The musicians and choir morphed into rockers, sunglasses and all. The knight with the Darth Vader laugh gave an even bigger laugh when the concertmaster of the orchestra, Miguel Borrego, who usually sports a Kojak-style bald head, put on a wig of long, curly black hair, in the purest style hheavy metal.

The show ended with some moving words by José Manuel Zapata before the orchestra played a ‘rebis’, the Air by Bach—this time without interruptions—a memorable moment. More than one person shed an emotional tear. Last night some 200 artists, as Zapata said, left a little piece of themselves, their hearts, their souls and their lives to make us happy. These artists dedicate themselves to what some call cultured music, that cultured music that most people only listen to in movies, television series or documentaries. A music that was written many years, centuries even, and that is produced in places like the Monumental Theatre, where every week one can go to concerts and enjoy it. Long live rap, pop, rock, reggaeton, salsa… and, of course, cultured music! If you don’t believe it, see it on the RTVE website.

michael thallium

MADRID / A Three Kings Gala with humor, emotions and great music