Ana Belén and Víctor Manuel: Spain in San Miguel de Allende
By Jesús Ibarra
On Friday, November 30, as part of the Vibra San Miguel Festival, Victor Manuel and Ana Belén, a couple of Spanish singers who are married, performed for the first time in San Miguel. Their biggest success in Mexico was the song La Puerta de Alcalá. The singers, who gave a free concert in the Jardín, gave an interview for the readers of Atención.
Jesús Ibarra: Is this your first time in San Miguel?
Ana Belén: We have been here before, but just visiting. One time we were acting in Querétaro and we came to spend the day in San Miguel. To sing in this place, in its wonderful square, is a gift.
JI: Have you managed to remain current in your music?
Victor Manuel: Every generation has its own musicians. There are some young people who are curious about musicians from other generations. Besides, the stories we tell in our songs are timeless; they speak of love and real life, and any young people can understand them. Also, if a younger person hears a song and engages with us, he or she will try to listen to other of our songs.
JI: Victor Manuel, what inspires you to compose?
VM: I am inspired by life, a story, a story that happens around me. Life is full of stories.
JI: The Mexican public identifies you with La Puerta de Alcalá. Is it your favorite song?
VM: I have a lot of songs that I prefer over La Puerta de Alcalá.
AB: I also have many songs that I love and that have given me much joy. I’m not a composer, and I feed myself with the songs that others have written for me, such as Lía by José María Cano, who gave it to me, or Peces de ciudad and A la sombra de un león, both by Joaquín Sabina. However, fortunately there is “La Puerta de Alcalá,” since because of that song lots of people got to know us. Then with Contamíname, there was also another generation who hooked in with us.
JI: Ana, do you also continue with your acting career?
AB: Yes. Last July I was at the Festival of Classical Theatre, in Electra by Euripides. We have also been in Phaedra and the monologue by García Márques Diatriba de amor contra un hombre sentado (Diatribe of love against a seated man). Perhaps the last thing I would do now is movies. Spain is going through many difficulties, and making a movie costs a lot. I’ve played many characters, but I still have things to do, and I’ll play any character that excites me.
JI: Does your acting career affect your singing career?
AB: Singing is also acting. I do not think I’m an exceptional singer; there are singers with vocal qualities infinitely better than mine, but I think that if I’m a unique singer it is because I am an actress. Being an actress has helped me to perform a song in a more sensitive way; a song is a story, after all. I do not separate my role as an actress and a singer. One thing feeds the other.
JI: How have you been able to overcome the economic crisis in Spain?
VM: You cannot wait to be called; you must seek to continue working, to be your own company and organize your own shows.
AB: You also need to reduce costs. If before you used eight musicians, now you use four. When you believe in your work you can overcome any adversity.
JI: What do you offer in each concert?
VM: A mixture of songs from different ages, some of which are well known, others that are lesser known, and some new ones we want to show to people. We seek to have a good connection with the public; we want people to be excited with us. What we do on the stage is to convey emotions. Each song is a different emotion and a different story.
JI: What does Mexico mean for you?
AB: Coming to Mexico means coming to a country that is a bit like home. Mexico became our home in a difficult time for us. We were able to work; we lived here when we could not go back to Spain. Mexico has always been very generous to us. We have been to Mexico many times without singing, just to see our friends.