The richness of the musical tradition here is magnificent. Last night we went to a concert at the Museo de la Cancion Yucateca. It was an homenaje to four local composers and performances of their music. Several of them were there to see the performance and receive honors from the city. Composer Arturo Camara Tappan had a plaque put on the wall of this beautiful museum and it was unveiled with great ceremony, complete with dignitaries and the press.
The bright blue building is a gorgeous colonial. Several hundred people were sitting in rows in a large courtyard looking at the stage. Most were couples, many of the women in mestiza dresses. We were the only foreigners.
The atmosphere was restrained and dignified, but the audience was deeply appreciative, especially when tenor Eduardo Rosado sang what was to be the final song, Peregrina, kind of the national anthem of Yucatan. That song always makes me cry. It’s the story of the tragic and brief love affair of Alma Reed, an American journalist and Felipe Carillo Puerto, the much beloved governor of Yucatan, a social progressive who fought for Indian rights. He lasted two years in office before he was asassinated. He is in the cemetery in the south end of Merida and Alma Reed is buried discreetly just across the walkway. (Since they weren’t married – to each other – they were buried separately.)
Eduardo Rosado has a thrilling operatic voice. He was accompanied by the Trio Ensueno, three serious guitarists with perfect harmonies and skilled, dramatic musicianship. Rosado got a standing ovation for Peregrina and did an encore.
Our friends Marta y Nacho, a fine Yucatecan duet, sang three songs by a composer named Maria Eugenia Escobedo, who was in the audience. As always, their heartfelt harmonies and the drama of Marta’s voice, captivated everyone. They are singing on weekends at La Bella Epoca downtown on 60th.
Can you imagine the state of Nevada having a museum of song? Or Washington? Museums celebrating composers and performers just from their states?
About 25 years ago, I spent some time at the Hotel Nefertiti in Rio Lagartos, enchanted by the ridiculous neon painted tortoise shells glowing at night on the dance floor, the depressed alligator in the pool out in back, the bust of Queen Nefertiti inexplicably sitting in a dry fountain populated by sad turtles in the lobby, the spectacular beach you could reach by launch – out on a spit, and the townsfolk, whose lives were melodramas. At night, Don Bernardo Massa, the hotel owner, would sit at our table in the huge palapa at the edge of the sea, look at me and my friend Sibyl with his rheumy eyes, play his guitar and singing Yucatecan ballads. When he sang Peregrina, I cried. I still cry every single time I hear it.
It doesn’t matter how badly you play and sing Peregrina. It is always tragic and hanting. But I’ve never heard it performed as thrillingly as last night, by Eduardo Rosado.