Doña Rosita Returns to El Repertorio

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From now until January 21, 2006, Federico García Lorca’s play, Doña Rosita la soltera, is being reincarnated after 23 years of absence from El Repertorio Español. Directed by esteemed René Buch and starring Miss Universe 2001, Denise Quiñones, as Rosita, Doña Rosita la soltera makes a stunning comeback.

Federico García Lorca, one of Spain’s most revered poets and dramatists, was born in 1898, a few miles from Granada. In 1936, at the young age of 38, he died a violent death also near Granada, as a victim of the fascist movement of the Spanish Civil War. He was highly recognized for intertwining his theatrical works with poetry, and he himself once explained, "El teatro es la poesía que se levanta del libro y se hace humana. Y al hacerse, habla y grita, llora y se desespera. El teatro necesita que los personajes que aparecen en escena lleven un traje de poesía y al mismo tiempo que se la vean los huesos, la sangre…"

One of his last plays before his death, Doña Rosita la soltera, is a precise example of how he combines theatre with poetry. It is a heart-wrenching tale mixed with surprising bits of comedy. The play starts out in Granada during the 1890’s, where a young and beautiful Doña Rosita falls in love with her cousin. Unexpectedly, his family calls for him to return to South America, but he swears to Rosita that he will return for her. She waits patiently for the rest of her life, even after she learns that he has married somebody else.

Lorca does an ingenious job at juxtaposing Doña Rosita’s life with the different historical periods (1980 – 1910) as well as comparing her with a flower – hence her name. As Lorca himself once said, seeing this play performed is like poetry brought to life.

The first scene at El Repertorio opened up with pure whiteness – the women were in white frilly dresses and flouncy white hats, the uncle was in a white suit, even the furniture was white. This is 1890, the period when Rosita is young, innocent and in love. She looked like a white rose in perfect bloom.

Rosita’s boyfriend, played by Freddy Rivera, made an appearance in the first act also dressed in white, and received loud sighs from the women in the audience because of his striking looks. He did not have a substantial part in the play, but it’s no wonder it took Rosita a lifetime to get over him!

In a period of social and gender status stratification, it is ironic that the maid possesses such a crucial role in the play. Alejandra Orozco did a remarkable portrayal of this fundamental character, and received many laughs from the audience. The maid butted her way into every conversation and made herself heard despite her position in society. "I love Rosita more than anybody," she would argue with Rosita’s aunt to explain why she listened in on all of their conversations.

The play portrays a period where a woman meant less in society if she wasn’t married. Rosita resists this societal norm by remaining single for the rest of her life. She proves that love conquers all, even if it is no longer reciprocated. She remains faithful to her heart and not to society. Rosita and the maid are the forces that rebel against society, the maid doing so more aggressively by making herself heard at all times, and Rosita, passively in her room.

By the third act, it is 1910: Rosita’s uncle dies, and everyone is now wearing black. Rosita has aged and looks wilted, she has found out and finally accepts the fact that her love is never coming back, and the play concludes with this heart breaking speech to her aunt:

"Me ha acostumbrado a vivir muchos años fuera de mi, pensando en cosas que estaban muy lejos, y ahora que estas cosas ya no existen sigo dando vueltas y mas vueltas por un sitio frio, buscando una salida que no he de encontrar nunca."

Watching Denise Quiñones act out these words causing a tremble throughout her slim frame and tears streaming down her delicate face, sent a chill down my spine. Her anguish was so believable that my heart ached for her. She is a very sincere actress who truly felt the character she is playing. She would have made Federico García Lorca very proud for having revived his poetry so well.