Every year they go in procession from the church of Sant Agustí to that other one that would deserve the name of cathedral of Sant Andreu, since as a church it is one of the largest in Catalonia. It is the entourage that has to interpret the Misteri de La Selva, the first Assumptionist drama written in the Romance language that is preserved in its entirety, in the splendid and mature Catalan of the second half of the 14th century.
The piece, an authentic Gregorian opera, was found at the end of the 19th century. Mossèn Joan Pié (La Selva del Camp, 1836-1919) published it in the Anales de la Vila. And in the fifties, Camil Ferrater and company dusted it off to bring it to the stage. Amadeu Soberanas made a transcription in 1983, so that the transition was over and the tradition of representing it every August 15, since 1980, with its corresponding music taken from the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat could be established, as stated in the consueta , that sort of black box of the clergy.
Yesterday was that day.
In the early years scholars such as Jaume Vidal and Aurèlia Capmany made a pilgrimage to La Selva to see this jewel of New Catalonia. Jealous of their treasure, the drama was not performed in its entirety outside the town until 1990, and only because Elx was celebrating the Medieval Theater Festival. Where better than among the greatest connoisseurs of the genre? Especially when the one in La Selva is older than the very mainstream Mystery of Elche.
Since then he has been traveling..., to Rome, to Tarragona... Mossèn Armand Puig – who yesterday did not disguise himself and followed him from the front row benches – took him to the Sagrada Família during the pandemic years. The anonymous text is an enjoyment of the troubadour lexicon, like the a cappella songs, with the same tune indicated in the original manuscript. Pure Gregorian from the 13th and 14th centuries.
There are very few of those sacramental cars that are represented. And in Sant Andreu, in front of the altarpiece that has La Moreneta as a guest, there is still room for more public. “It is the culmination of dramatic and musical elements, halfway between the liturgical celebration, catechism and theatrical act”, says the artistic director, Lídia Roig, as a preliminary explanation from the altar.
Along Calle Mayor, the hundred participants have advanced intoning the beautiful Stella splendens. Now, the 24 stage moments will follow one another with remarkable vocal and stage quality. The Jews want to make sure that Mary's body is burned when she dies, lest it disappear like Jesus'. Meanwhile, the young Virgin Mary, with a heavenly song, asks the apostles not to allow it. Suddenly Lucifer bursts in with his heck, and the ship's temperature rises several degrees. The actors, from the local theater center, have gotten into the character well.
"This is the first year that we have all the participants sit at the altar," says Roig. And what about completely turning off the lights when they sing while already transporting the lifeless body of the Madonna...? "It's also our thing," he says. Theatrical effects that clarify the mystery that refuses to be revealed.
By the way, until the nineties they incorporated the Holy Trinity. Until an American scholar pointed out that he was not present at the Assumption. Only Jesus, in charge of taking her mother to heaven both body and soul to crown her, in full choral joy. The organ ignites, the entourage parades through a jubilant audience that suddenly seems to be part of that endless sacred story.