After the tragedy of Linares in 1947, a whole
myriad of poems, songs, and popular phrases suddenly appeared, describing the fatal
goring of Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez "Manolete".
One of these phrases, originally spoken in a
radio report, and since repeated thousands of times, was: "Manolete está muerto; muerto está, que yo
lo vf!" referring to the publics' disbelief on hearing of the death of the seemingly invincible "Monstruo".
Almost 46 years later, the daily taurino news
sheet published by the Diputación de Valencia during the Feria de Julio had the headline "VICENTE
Quite a few peña members were lucky enough
to see this amazing young torero this year; I say young, but Vicente is already 25 and until this year
in Fallas had only fought one, very obscure novillada con picadores. Before that his last fight was a festival
in Muñera - by coincidence, I have the small cartel from this event, which someone handed to me in
another plaza last year. Grandson of the legendary torero of the same name, Vicente is a qualified
solicitor, and last year decided he must choose between taking a Masters' degree in London and
New York, or one final try at becoming a torero.
Fortunately, he chose the latter! Last Fallas nobody
gave a thought to him, except to wonder how he had managed to creep into a cartel de lujo with
Carrion and Rivera Ordóñez - but 2 hours later, nobody (except a few dozen teenage girls and some
ex Paquirristas, who only had eyes for Fran!!) spoke of anything else.
When asked later how he had managed to seem
so calm, keep so still, fight with such temple, he modestly replied that he'd had nothing to lose; but
this can't explain how in his first novillada for over a year and only his second ever con picadores he
could nail his feet to the sand, keep his hands so low, standing so straight and majestic. It's more
than that. Older aficionados were on their feet, shaking their heads and recalling faenas of "El
Monstruo" half a century before, while the younger spectators agreed this was something DIFFERENT!
A month later, the Diputación, who have done
an excellent job this year, repeated the fight. After a perfect lunch in "Robertos", recommended to me
by Stefan Lindwalls' good friend Merche, sister of the late Manolo Montoliú, as the best place in Valencia for
paella, we set off for the plaza, hardly daring to hope for a repeat of the Fallas novillada. But a
wonderful encierro from Borja Domecq gave us what was, for me, the best taurine afternoon of this
season. Once again Vicente gave us the gift of his wonderful, serious torero amanoletado, passing the
horns only millimeters away and ending on his last animal with a superb estocada, literally throwing
himself over the horns. The salida a hombros was triumphant.
By now, Barrera was being managed by the
junior Lozanos, and the rain of contracts we expected to see as a result did not happen.
In Malaga and a few other places he was
disappointing and people started to say he was only a torero local, only got inspired in his own plaza,
or that he would be a Flor de un día.
Would he disappear like so many other promising
Valencian novilleros? There is actually a joke about the existence of a plaza de toros, somewhere in the
sky, where all the failed Valencian toreros finally go! Just in the few years that I have been a regular
Fallera, I have applauded, on my feet, enough local aspirants to make a football team (which they
might be better off doing), only to see them erased again as quickly as they arrived. Jorge Mazcuñan,
Paco Senda, Angel de la Rosa, Francisco Perpiñan... the list goes on and on.
In the Feria de Julio, Barrera was announced two days consecutively, and for two days, he gave
us a lesson in how torero ought to be, (but so rarely is), and next day, the Disputación published the
happy headline which I mentioned earlier.
Yes, he's still green; the Lozanos' (rightly or
wrongly, given his age) seem to be taking him slowly. He docs need more fights, more time, and
he candidly admits that the cogidas he's had are due to his own lack of experience.
But for myself no one else has such personality,
can bring off passes with such deep, moving, emotional beauty.
An incident at his last novillada in the Calle
Xátiva summed it up; Ricardo has a very nice photograph of Vicente, where all his innate elegance is
apparent, and we showed it, amongst others, to Fran Riveras' mozo de espadas, commenting it was
a pity that Vicentes' face was half-hidden. The mozo smiled, a little enviously, we thought! "But
you can tell", he said. "It couldn't really be anyone else but Barrera!"
VICENTE BARRERA ESTÁ
VIVO, VIVO ESTÁ, QUE YO LO VI!
Abrazos a todos, Andrea,
"EL IMPERIO BRITÁNICO"