Granada, I’m falling under your spell,
And if you could speak, what a fascinating tale you would tell.
Granada! I hear it as musical climax, which somehow reminds me of the fanfare that greets the torreros as they enter the bullring. Then the tune takes off again in that distinctive rhythm of all things Spanish to the accompaniment of castanets. The tenor concludes his song, in the original Spanish, with the phrase ‘sangre y sol’ (blood and sun). In my head I hear the refrain of the English version where ‘Granada will live again the glories of yesterday.’ And I wonder once again whose glories; when and what will be revived?
Augustin Lara’s song Granada is an operatic standard, one of those classy divertissements regularly included in recitals. It featured in the very first, the unmatchable, meeting of the Three Tenors: Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras. They gathered at the Roman ruins of Carracalla, lit to perfection under a clear Italian night sky, to mark the FIFA World Cup football final of 1990! It sounds incongruous but it worked so well it became a global phenomenon. It was celebration, joyous entertainment full of joie de vivre and esprit de corps – yet with the unmistakable undertone of gladiatorial combat: each tenor vying to state their case for being the head honcho in larynx to larynx duels. In the midst of it the ‘other one’, as the Spanish tenor Jose Carreras became known, belted out Granada as he tried so earnestly to match the supreme glories of Domingo and the big fella, Pavarotti.