Throughout 2020, the Community of Madrid will commemorate the centenary of the death of Benito Pérez Galdós (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1843-Madrid, 1920). And under the artistic direction of Juan Carlos Pérez de la Fuente, there will be an intense program of activities that will remind one of the greatest Spanish novelists and the one who has best collected in his works the history of this country.
Galdós moved to the Spanish capital with only 19 years and the city greatly influenced him, so much that he sometimes became a character in his books. Hence, Madrid wants to dedicate this tribute where there will be conferences, cultural itineraries, photographic exhibitions, readings and staging of his works in theaters and squares.
According to Pérez de la Fuente, to “know Galdós you have to read Galdós. You have to read it because it is entertaining, but not superficial; because it is fun, but also intelligent and not afraid to delve into daily miseries; because he is relentless in his criticism, but never heartless. We must read him because he invites us to reflect without imposing sermons, because he invites us to travel beautifully through time and history; because he writes his novels as a journalist and his articles as a novelist; because after finishing his books, we are a little better”.
The program "Galdós lives, lives Galdós" also wants to "provoke curiosity about the author, influencing less known aspects of his life and his work: his love of drawing; his taste for music; his political commitment, which leads him to write exciting speeches whose deeply civic sense still resonates today”.
Benito Pérez Galdós was elected member of the Royal Spanish Academy in 1889, when he was already a prestigious author: he had published the twenty titles that make up the first two series of "National Episodes", more than a dozen novels, plays, stories and tales and a multitude of collaborations in the press and literary magazines.
His entry speech will be remembered, this February 20, by the actors Imanol Arias and Carmen Conesa, who will transfer their words “to the natural environment where he extracted the raw material of his novels: the streets, the squares, theaters, the taverns, walks or cafes. Life itself. And the oratory piece that was born to be read by the author himself, "academic word", will now be "actor's word".
This theatrical experience will be held at Café Gijón, emblem of the cultural landscape of Madrid. So much so that there was a time when it was said that "it was more important to have a chair in the Gijón, than an armchair in the Royal Spanish Academy."
In the theatrical, in addition to versions of his classic Fortunata and Jacinta, an adaptation of the extraordinary Tetralogy of Torquemada, which can be seen in the Theaters of the Canal, as well as the fantastic tales El Don Juan y Celin has been included as a highlight of the programming.
During the traditional "Night of the books" (April 23 and 24) Galdós will move in subways, an invention that the canary did not know, but that he would undoubtedly have enjoyed. It will be a different experience in which the public can enjoy different scenes of the main novels and plays by Pérez Galdós, in all the lines of the Madrid Subways.
Between April 30 and June 28, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando will host the exhibition "Madrid in times of Galdós", with about 140 photographs, of which half are portraits of the writer, almost all unpublished, alone or in the company of people in his family and emotional closeness. The rest correspond to the scenarios in which he spent his life, especially in this city, which we would not understand without his books.
It will be a selection of snapshots of great masters of Galdós' time photography, such as Laurent, Clifford, Martínez Sánchez, Antonio García, Franzen, Káulak, Alfonso, Marín, Salazar and Campúa. The photographs not only show us the changing image of the writer, but also of the Madrid that he found in 1862 and the urban evolution of the city, from the Elizabethan aftermath, the reign of Amadeo de Saboya, the First Republic, the Restoration and the Regency.
Galdós was also a great music lover: amateur pianist, during one stage of his life he worked as a music critic and maintained a special relationship with musicians and arrangers of the time. Hence, part of this program has a musical chapter:
In July, the Summer Classics Festival will feature several chamber music concerts related to composers, friends of Benito Pérez Galdós and whom he admired, such as Ruperto Chapí (1851-1909), Francisco Asenjo Barbieri (1823-1894), Nicolás Ledesma (1791-1883), Jesús de Monasterio (1836-1903), Hilarión Eslava (1807-1878), Federico Olmeda (1865-1909), Pablo Sarasate (1844-1908) or Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909).
In addition, on September 6, the Orchestra and Choir of Madrid will offer an open-air symphonic concert in its tribute, within the framework of the Aranjuez Mutiny Festivities, stage of one of the writer's most important works, part of the Nationals Episodes
And on December 13, the Royal Escolanía de San Lorenzo de El Escorial and Álvaro de los Santos, will interpret their new year's tale "The Princess and the Rogue", at the Royal Coliseum of Carlos III, of the Escorial.
Also, in the second half of 2020, “Galdós Street Art” will arrive in different municipalities of the Community of Madrid, a project that aims to bring the Galdosian work closer to new audiences, by carrying out interventions by urban artists in the public space.
The project will investigate the work of Galdós focusing on certain issues, such as gender roles, labor relations, daily life and passions, physiognomies and citizens' characters, fully in force in today's society through the creations of important and recognized urban artists in the public space of different municipalities of the Community.
The entire “Year Galdós” program will have as its image a poster designed by children from the primary schools of the Community of Madrid, who will become artists and designers thanks to the “Hello Galdós 2020” contest.
On the cover: Portrait of Pérez Galdós de Sorolla