Of the many homages made to Chavela Vargas since her passing in 2012, the documentary El Ruiseñor de la Noche: Chavela Vargas canta a Lorca stakes out a unique place in its exploration of Chavela’s spiritual connection to the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca.
Following Vargas on a sort of farewell concert performed in Spain the year of her death, director Rubén Rojo Aura incorporates interviews with Vargas and those she inspired along with poetic asides to explore how the legendary ranchera singer found a deep, personal connection with the Spanish poet.
Vargas began staying at the famed Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid – where Lorca, Dali, and Luis Buñuel forged a historic friendship almost a century ago – back in 1993 and dreamed of returning to pay homage to Lorca before she died. She got that chance at age 93, and despite her frail health, made the trip to Spain for a powerful farewell performance that seemed an appropriate closure to her life and career.
In El Ruiseñor de la Noche, Aura explores the artistic connections between Vargas and Lorca, their seeming transcendence of life and death, of dream and reality, and incorporates animated footage along with fragmented poetic visuals to capture this spirit in the documentary’s style.
Taking its name from a yellow nightingale that would visit Vargas each night in the Residencia, the documentary promises to be a fascinating and fresh portrait of two of the Spanish-speaking world’s greatest artistic treasures.