Ask a lover of Spanish cinema what Spain's equivalent of Hollywood is, and the obvious response will be Madrid; most of Spain's top actors and directors are based in Spain's largest city. Barcelona, meanwhile, is the city that dominates the Spanish porn industry; if Madrid is Spain's Hollywood, Barcelona is Spain's San Fernando Valley. But some excellent non-porn movies have been filmed (or partly filmed) in Barcelona, ranging from Pedro Almodóvar's Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother) to American director Whit Stillman's clever Barcelona. Stillman isn't the only American director who has filmed in Barcelona; the capitol of Cataluña (or Catalunya in Catalan) is where Woody Allen filmed his romantic comedy/drama Vicky Cristina Barcelona (starring Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Scarlett Johansson). In the liner notes, Allen explains that this soundtrack called for Spanish music but candidly admits that Spanish music isn't something he is terribly knowledgeable about. However, Allen obviously did his research, and the recordings that he chose are excellent. Although this 42-minute disc contains two sensuous vocal offerings by the Barcelona-based group Giulia y los Tellarini ("Barcelona" and "La Ley del Retiro"), most of the soundtrack focuses on instrumental flamenco guitar – specifically, flamenco of the nuevo flamenco variety.
When Donizetti’s comedy, updated to the mid-20th century by the Uruguayan-born director Mario Gas, was mounted at Barcelona’s magnificent Liceu opera house in 2005, Opera News wrote that: “The absolute hit of the production was … Rolando Villazón, a commanding, vulnerable and hilarious Nemorino. His stage presence dominated every scene he was in …[and] his lovable innocence was a joy to behold. Villazón’s perfect technique and creamy, malleable voice conquered the audience … His athletic and expressive body language–midway between Cantinflas and Mr. Bean–fits this role and this production perfectly.” The Mexican tenor, making his debut at the Liceu, was called upon the encore the opera’s most famous aria, the plaintive ‘Una furtiva lagrima’.