José María Sicilia: ‘For Sale’, when only audacity remains | Culture


A scene from the dress rehearsal for 'Se Vende'.
A scene from the dress rehearsal for ‘Se Vende’.Pedro Martínez de Albornoz Dechamps / El Instante Foundation

For Sale it is a musical show full of artistic references. Its content and its greatest value, for whom it signs, lies in encounters that may have been unexpected. For example, I have never seen or even sensed something evident here: the libretto of For Sale they are his audiovisuals; Its framework is a chat, conveniently filmed, between six young people who chat about what is done in this medium, they are the present. But there is more material in these videos: games with a profusion of images of current politicians, sentences, colors, filming of acts with artistic collaborations by people like Muntadas or Gómez de Liaño, in short …

And it is that this metazarzuela is a product managed from the imagination of the artist José María Sicilia, mentor of The Instant Foundation, an unusual place for what is the current wasteland of the Madrid art scene.

For Sale It is his star project for this 2021 and shows an almost excessive ambition. In its industrial space, there is an orchestra of about thirty musicians, a choir, 10 actors, four singers and people who swarm taking photos. The audience, no more numerous than the orchestra, finds itself in the middle of the mess as it can. It is a total art that collects ideas from the old avant-garde and puts them in the hands of very young people so that they can live the illusion that they are inventing it. Artistic renewal has always been like this and Sicilia is a master. Young artists are, first, young, but then extraordinary professionals, some more budding than others, hardened in a thousand battles of the precariousness that plagues us. The result may surprise some, tire others, but it is the freshest and most imaginative product that has been available in Madrid in decades. The key? The independence of El Instante Fundación, they do what they want and how they want, some things can be regular, but free and unfettered ingenuity is always the ferment of true ideas. And these abound in this piece of music that I don’t need to call zarzuela.

Videos, staging and direction are by José María Sicilia, few jokes, he is a great of contemporary Spanish art. The librettist is a certain JM Fernández-Shaw, a surname of high Zarzuelistic roots, who prefers anonymity, even if it is very slight. The composers, who are three, are heavyweights of the Spanish composition, Jesús Rueda, David del Puerto and Javier Arias, and they do their thing very well, both composing, from very popular music and genres, and embedding themselves in the collective. It is expected, but it must be reviewed. Managing this group from the sparse media and the space turned into a virtue from necessity is not up to everyone. Cristina Pons, coordinator of El Instante, miraculously solves it and it was anything but easy.

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Then there is the Madrid Festival Orchestra, conducted by a young courage, Albert Skuratov; the Choir of the Orchestra and Philharmonic Choir, the Aula de Teatro Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. A crazy group, full of young people who feel important because they are. And, as in these times of crisis, they do it very well and spread enthusiasm. A joy to hear and see them.

And one last observation: this waste of free art can end up transmitting something similar to a blossoming of a new twenties: sex, porn, political and social crisis … a script already known; a pandemic that ends, massive precariousness … And where nothing remains, there is always the body and enthusiasm, and behind the scenes, fascism. Sicily may be a new Cassandra, announcing something that no one will believe.


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