La Bisbal d'Empordà recovers a Passion in Catalan prohibited during the Franco regime

La Bisbal d'Empordà will recover this Easter a Passió in Catalan that the Franco regime prohibited 80 years ago.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
15 March 2023 Wednesday 04:51
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La Bisbal d'Empordà recovers a Passion in Catalan prohibited during the Franco regime

La Bisbal d'Empordà will recover this Easter a Passió in Catalan that the Franco regime prohibited 80 years ago. Dating from the 18th century, the play stopped being performed before the Civil War broke out and the dictatorship prevented it from being performed again.

On March 14, 1943, this Passion was to be represented for the first time after the end of the Civil War. But an hour before the premiere, with the tickets sold, the costumes and the sets ready, the Civil Guard appeared at the Teatre Principal with a telegram from the civil governor forbidding it. Among the reasons: that it was in Catalan and was based on the apocryphal gospels.

On April 2, 80 years later, actors from the Pastorets and the orchestra and Cor Carreras Dagas will recover some twenty scenes to pay tribute to this work "retaliated" by Francoism.

There is evidence that it was performed in the municipality since the 18th century and that, from 1850, it began to be performed at the Teatro Principal, which burned down in the 1960s. The last time it was performed was in 1932 and with the Civil War the tradition was truncated. In 1942 a group of neighbors who had done it in the 30s were encouraged to resume it. They did not have all the text but the sets were kept in the theater.

It was then that Maria Gispert, known as Maria de la imprenta, entered the scene. In order to recover the text, she sent the living actors one by one to dictate her role and thus be able to rewrite and adapt it, in part, to Pompeu Fabra standards. With the job half done, they located a copy of the 32 and finished it off.

They already had everything: the costumes rented in Barcelona, ​​the sets and the tickets sold. They had also obtained the support of the 'Local Board of Education and Rest' but on the day of the premiere the illusions of that group of actors were dashed. "At three in the afternoon, an hour before the premiere, the Civil Guard arrived with a telegram from Luis Mazo Mendo, the civil governor of Girona, prohibiting it," explains the director of the Pastorets, Jordi Bassa.

"It was in Catalan and the Catholic sector on the far right was against it, claiming that it was based on the apocryphal gospels and they finished convincing the governor," he adds. "These people were ruined. They had to do works to pay for the clothes and the expenses that were there. In addition, they threatened people telling them that if they dared to do the work, the expelled from Catholic Action and they did not want to do it again, until now.

In 2009, Albert Morcillo, musicologist and former director of the Carreras Dagas Choir, was preparing his thesis on Joan Carreras and Dagas when, consulting the Canet fund of the Baix Empordà Regional Archive, he located the original scores of Los Pastorets and the Passion of the Bisbal de Josep Canet, the founder of La Principal de la Bisbal.

The discovery unnerved him and he told Bassa, who runs the Pastorets. "With the choir, we recovered part of the music of Los Pastorets, but the project of La Passion stayed there," explains Morcillo.

This Holy Week, homage will be paid to these people who were retaliated against by the Franco regime, recovering a part of the Passió. "It will be minimalist, we will do about 20 scenes, those with music," explains Bassa. 20 actors, 10 orchestra musicians and 40 singers will participate. The rest of the scenes that will not be represented will be explained. "We won't do the crucifixion but we will do the earthquake scene, with violins, for example," explains Bassa.

"The idea is to make a tribute, so that it remains recorded in the sound bank and in the archive but not to do it every year," Bassa remarks. It will be on April 2 at seven in the evening at the World Theater, the successor to the Principal that burned in the 70s, and tickets will be priced at 15 euros. In the lobby, there will also be a small exhibition of photographic material, posters, scores, texts and articles from the period.

As for the music, the Cor Carreras Dagas, helped by singers from other choirs and soloists, and directed by its director David Granato, will perform the choral songs and solos that will be played by an orchestra of ten musicians. Granato says that they have made small adjustments and have "adapted" to the musicians they have.

"It's a bit about recovering that emotion that those people had when they decided to recover it, after the war, and then they told them that they couldn't do it," says Granato. "It is a double homage to the heritage of La Bisbal," says Morcillo.