One Night with Diego El Cigala: the Prince of Flamenco

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Hailing from Spain, Diego El Cigala brings his husky, passionate, and profound lyricism to enthrall Montreal for one night, and one night only. This singular performance speaks the perfection and the pain of a fleeting encounter with love — a three time Grammy- winning love. He will perform pieces from his last album Romance de la luna Tucuman which explores the sounds of Argentine tango and folklore. Revered guitarist Paco de Lucia described El Cigala as possessing “one of the most beautiful flamenco voices of our time, a voice of sweetness that flows over everything.” I asked him these questions to get a glance at the man behind Flamenco’s most captivating voice:

Marisa Samek (MS): What’s the concept behind your most recent album Romance de la luna Tucuman?

Diego El Cigala (DEC): The concept of my album was to continue discovering Argentina’s musical world. After my last album, Cigala & Tango, I wanted to continue investigating this terrain but, this time, more comfortably and more in-depth than Tango. I also wanted to include Argentine folklore.


MS: What musician—past or present—has inspired you most?

DEC: The big inspirations of my childhood and adult life are Paco de Lucia y Camarón de la Isla. So is my uncle, Rafael Farina.


MS: What fascinates you about fusing Tango and Flamenco?

DEC: Tango and Flamenco, despite all their differences, share the same feeling. Both carry pain, both are music of the people.


MS: Your sense of rhythm amazes me. What’s the secret understanding rhythm? Are there certain exercises that you practice?

DEC: There definitely are exercises, but I don’t know them. I never studied any. I learned everything as a child, in my home, in a very natural way. I imagine that even when you learn, the real rhythm comes from within.


MS: My favourite song on Romance is “Milonga de Martin Fierro”? Is there a story behind it? What’s your favourite song on the album?

DEC: It is also one of my favourites. The lyrics are from the poem “El gaucho Martín Fierro” and, among other things, the song speaks about not needing any training to be a singer or an artist. Another one of my favourite songs on the album is “Naranjo en Flor”.


MS: What are you listening to right now?

DEC: Right now, I’m listening to a lot of salsa in preparation for my next project. I’m studying the greats like Héctor Lavoe and Celia Cruz.


MS: Which has been your favourite city to perform in? Is there a memorable performance?

DEC: I wouldn’t know how to tell you. There have been so many and in each you just try to give the best of yourself. Right now, I am eager to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City this Thursday May 8th. There are many performances etched in my memory, like recording the DVD of Lágrimas Negras with Bebo Valdés in Mallorca.

Diego El Cigala performs on May 6 at Place des Arts. Lusitaniae Musica and Raizes de Coimbra open. 8 p.m. $47.50+