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When we last looked, Spain was in the thick of getting its tapas declared UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. Asked whether Spain was also going to request the same status for the bulls and/or the bullfight, Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, said No.
The controversy in Spain over whether to ban bullfights nationwide or in selected localities erupts now and then. When it does, the debate is usually as ferocious as the raging bull in the corrida.
A month ago, Madrid celebrated its Fiestas de San Isidro, a bullfighting festival whose quality and fame are unmatched anywhere in the world.
Given all these, we’re reprinting Muriel Feiner’s San Isidro article 30 years ago. Then and now, Muriel is Spain’s foremost woman writer on the subject of bulls.
You’ll learn a great deal about toros and the Fiestas de San Isidro just reading her chronicle of the festival in 1986!
13 June 1986
By Muriel Feiner
SEVEN CORRIDAS AND ONLY THREE EARS FIRST WEEK OF SAN ISIDRO
Monday, May 11th
Ganadero Fermin Bohorquez observed the very manso performance of his bulls. . . and he could not have been very happy with the results. The well-presented but cowardly animals were responsible for the major disappointment of the spectators on Monday in relation with the interest aroused by the three banderillero/matadores: Luis Francisco Espla, Portuguese Victor Mendes and Vicente Ruis “El Soro”. . .
This forgettable afternoon was unfortunately chosen by Television Española for televising live throughout the country.
Tuesday, May 12th
The bullring was packed once again today and expectation was high to see Juan Antonio Ruiz “Espartaco”, after his recent triumph in Sevilla. . .
The young torero from Espartinas, Sevilla was able to cut the first ear of the fair for a determined and ligado (joined) faena with his first bull. He entered with the sword with absolute determination and so the alguacillo was able to make his first appearance in the ruedo to deliver an ear to a successful matador. Espartaco tried to repeat his luck with the other bull of the afternoon, but the animal would not cooperate and after a quick metisaca, Espartaco was applauded.
Wednesday, May 13th
Once again the No hay billetes sign was up to show that the 5th corrida was, on paper, most promising. . .
In all truth José Mari Manzanares could not do very much with his lot of bulls, and so the aficion will have to wait for a better occasion to see the artistic torero from Alicante.
. . . The entire plaza groaned in horror when [Emilio Muñoz’s] first bull made an unexpected charge and the matador turned, with capote in hand, to flee in helpless confusion. . .
Thursday, May 15th. San Isidro Day
The corridas featuring the figures in the past few days were unsatisfactory and title was indeed expected from the cartel prepared for today, offering non-figuras. José Luis Galloso, Manuel Ruiz “Manili” and Venezuelan Morenito de Maracay faced bulls from the noted Pablo Romero ranch which, surprisingly enough, turned out to be the most interesting and entertaining of the entire fair thus far.
José Luis Galloso cut an ear . . for a meritious faena. The bull was exceptional and José Luis killed it on second attempt recibiendo. . .
Manili surprised us and with the most difficult animals he showed himself to be maturing in style and in depth. He created two intelligent faenas, and killed with determination taking a turn of the ring on the first and was warmly applauded on the second.
Morenito de Maracay had the best animals of the day and he was all willingness with the cape, sticks and muleta. He cut an ear from the excellent third and. . . the public was finally satisfied for their loyal attendance at Las Ventas day after day.
Friday, May 16th
. . .The supposedly top novilleros on the ranking. . . showed they were, at least today, lacking in idea and afición. . . The loyal public. . .deserves a lot more than this. . .
SEVEN MORE EARS IN SECOND WEEK OF SAN ISIDRO FAIR
Another week of top bullfights has transpired in the Madrid Las Ventas bullring and the six corridas and one novillada brought only a medium amount of satisfaction to the aficionados who faithfully filled the 25,000 seat bullring day after day. An additional seven ears were cut, awarded one to PEPIN JIMENEZ, two to FRANCISCO RUIZ MIGUEL with the Victorinos, one to ESPARTACO, one to NIÑO DE LA CAPEA and two to JOSE ORTEGA CANO.
But there is still one more long week of bullfights to go.
Corrida Nº 9
Today’s corrida was long and eventful and the most important work of the afternoon was offered by the young torero from Lorca, Murcia, Pepín Jiménez, Pepín had always impressed us as a highly artistic torero with a very personal style, which is much appreciated in today’s bullfighting which abounds, at times, in monotony. . . He cut an ear from his first bull for a glowing faena and an effective sword. . .
Tómas Campuzano has a very unlucky afternoon [and] has left San Isidro empty handed. . .
Curro Durán disappointed us and he is a far cry from the capable and buoyant torero which we saw just a couple or years ago. The bulls today were responsible for quite a scandal though in all fairness a great deal of the blame belongs to the President (aficionados know that the corridas are presided over by a Police Commissioner in Madrid, a profession which does not necessarily imply great deal of knowledge of Bullfighting). The lidia of the first two bulls had progressed quite smoothly [but] when the third bull. . . made its entrance into the ring, the President unexpectedly put out his green handkerchief, signalling the return of the bull to the corrals. . . Out came the sobrero [substitute bull]. . . and, as is frequently the case, it was more lame than its predecessor. Back to the corrals, and two more sobreros had to be released before the president was satisfied. . .
Corrida Nº 10
. . . The corrida took on particular importance today because it marked major milestone in the career of . . . Paco Ruiz Miguel. Ruiz Miguel had offered to kill six bulls all by himself. . . It proved to be one of the most interesting days of the fair, thanks to the bulls. . . In addition to the two ears cut, Paco took three turns of the ring and was carried out through the Puerta Grande. In all truth, . . .six were a lot of toros for one matador and, in particular, for Ruiz Miguel. [Still, he] has the right to be proud of his efforts.
Corrida Nº 13
Another important corrida which was in this case, fortunately, televised live throughout Spain. The Baltasar Iban bulls . . . favored the performances of the diestros today.
First off, we must single out the important performance of Pedro Moya “Niño de la Capea”, recently arrived from the very taurine Mexico with the aura of an Aztec god. . . His work with the difficult and reluctant first bull earned him an ear and the respect of the aficionados. . .
José Ortega Cano created the most important, artistic faena of the Fair with the third bull of the afternoon. . . His work was historic, tempered and perfect and it earned him two most deserved ears and the exit through the Puerta Grande.
José Antonio Carretero took the alternativa on this auspicious afternoon and unfortunately he became lost in the shuffle. He was applauded by a symphathetic public but the situation was difficult and he only managed to impress the crowd with his banderillas. . .
Corrida Nº 14
This was not the most exciting afternoon of the fair, and part of the blame was due to the complications and mansedumbre of the corrida of Antonio Juliá de Marca proceeding from the equally difficult ranch of El Tomillar. . .
The most important moments of the corrida were performed by Lucio Sandrín, the promising graduate of the Madrid Escuela de Tauromaquia. . . He had problems with the kill but this was his nemesis even before that fatal afternoon when he lost his eye. He . . . displayed some important moments with his second bull and we hope with time will head the ranking of matadores de toros. . .
Featured image by Marcus Obal (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:MarcusObal), CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported
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