27 January 2005 | Venus-25
Destined for classic status.
In spite of any factual errors, GITANAS is one of the most exciting novelas to come in the last few years. While you might ask yourself initially what the period of the story is you ultimately realize it doesn't matter because, like most great drama, it deals with human universality's: love, passion, pride, prejudice, hatred, culture clashes, old secrets, and new deceptions.
Taking a lot of inspiration from Shakespeare and some from the Brazilian hit EL CLON, it is the story of love crossing cultural lines and a family feud. The beautiful gypsy widow Jovanka once loved and lost Raphael Dominguez, whose family's fishing business drives the economy of Malarribo. The loss was not just because of their cultural differences but because he was in a marriage arranged by Victoria (his extremely controlling mother) and he had a young child. Jovanka was humiliated first by Victoria Dominguez and then by her own people, who cast her out because she had not only given herself to a gayo (non-Gypsy male) but was also pregnant. She somehow made it to Europe, married a wealthy man, became a widow, and somewhere early on adopted three -- or was it two? -- baby girls. Upon her return with her three daughters history repeats itself when Maria Salomé, the psychic one, meets and falls in love with Sebastian Dominguez who -- you've guessed it correctly -- is the son of Raphael. The widowed Raphael desperately wants Jovanka back, but he now has to deal not only with his mother's unrelenting hostility but also with competition from his brother Juan who has interesting conflicts of his own because... he is a priest. The story also includes various subplots involving romances between other mixed couples at different social levels within Malarribo and the elaborate schemes of Victoria and her niece Eréndira, who conspire to ruin the love between Sebastian and Maria Salomé.
The cast is excellent and attractive, with the legendary Saul Lisazó as Padre Juan and Dolores Heredia as Jovanka. Her dignified feline beauty coupled with her intelligence is the exact sort of temptation to put before a priest who was never allowed a normal life before taking his vows. Manolo Cardona is perfect as Sebastian, the Romeo who will risk everything for love. The young gypsy males are also well cast, played by some very tempting actors. They include Juan Carlos Nieto Chao, a handsome Spaniard who is also an excellent flamenco dancer and Erick Elias, who somewhat resembles Alejandro Fernández.
I would have like to have heard more flamenco music in the soundtrack, but otherwise this novela is near-perfect and should be the same sort of international hit as EL CLON.