Subject: Musicals in Spain (and free open-air concerts in Florence)
Hello Ziners, I am just back from a great night at the theatre. Right now Bilbao is in the middle of her big yearly festival : Semana Grande or Aste Nagusia. Theatre is a very important part of our festivities during this month, with most of the big companies coming here and spoiling us for choice (and also the fireworks, the first serious soccer match of the season, the bars and the outdoor cafes, the fun fair and the bullfights).

Musicals have become very popular during the latest 4, 5 years in Spain. I think everything began with The Man of La Mancha, played by Paloma Sanbasilio (a brilliant singer) and Jose Sacristan (an amazing actor, you should have seen him in Amadeus). Afterwards, we have had anything from Rent to Beauty and the beast (the best one, Chicago, without a doubt). Right now there are two good ones in Madrid : The phantom of the opera, opening in September, and My fair lady, again with Jose Sacristan and Paloma Sanbasilio.

Today we have watched Hello Dolly, played by Concha Velasco, one of the great ladies of the spanish theatre. She has been acting since the Fifties, and we are still amazed with the way she has got all the eyes in the theatre fixed on her. She has charisma, and knows it.

And about the open air concerts in Florence ... my dear little sister hasnīt found if Vivoli is opened or not, but at least something good has happened. During this month of August, on weekdays, there are free open-air concerts in front of Santa Maria Novella (anything from Vivaldi to musicals to Mozart and Rossini). So tonight they have headed there, with their picnic basket and their blankets, and they have had a wonderful balmy night (while eating their goodies and too many Mulino Bianco cookies. At least thatīs what she has told me :)) ).

Kind regards, Covadonga Bilbao - Spain