From Cuba to Puerto Rico and to the Dominican Republic

From July 29th until September 29th 1918 the company performed in Santiago de Cuba, Villuendas, Guantánamo and La Havana again, where they played in “El Carmelo” restaurant, in a tribute to Agustín Picallo and Joaquín Zon organized by the Galician house. Some newspapers talked about the performance and the company explaining that it was a company formed by a Spanish cast. Some of them had previously performed along with Ballester: Baltasar Banquells, Miquel Santacana… In these reviews he also received great critics talking about his personality, his voice, his acting skills and his modesty.

A few months later Vicent had joined the Mancini Grand Opera Company and he was playing only opera. He had a frenetic activity, acting almost daily in Puerto Rico (From the end of February until the end of March 1919) and in the Dominican Republic (until mid May). As usual he receives very good reviews but some new skill shows: his drawing skills. Vicent not only became friend of the journalists. He would also draw cartoons of himself, the journalist or other castmates and gave them as a gift. Some journalists like these cartoons so much that they would use Vicent’s cartoon instead of the official one. I’m pretty sure some fun situations arouse, like the one explained by a journalist who was interviewing Lucía Fernández Flores. Vicent drew a cartoon of her later published the newspaper. Dalmau Canet, from “El Imperial” newspaper from San Juan de Puerto Rico, interviewed Ballester. Under Vicent’s cartoon he wrote: “Ballester doesn’t need to be drawn by anyone. Like Caruso, he picks up the pencil and in a moment he’s drawn himself”. Dalmau became one of Ballester’s fans. He used to write about his simplicity and lack of show off attitude.

Back then in Puerto Rico’s newspapers large interviews with Ballester can be found. Sometimes, he made up parts of his biography (or maybe I should say: exaggerate, keep parts off…) but he kept growing his reputation as a friendly person. A common denominator of the reviews of his performances was that he was the best Rigoletto ever. Another example is the review of the final appearance of Ricardo Martin, the famous tenor. He hadn’t been able to make his debut in Carmen when he was supposed to because he didn't feel good. There was a double program with Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci with Ballester singing in both and Ricardo Martin, only in the second. The first one was very successful, singing along with his fellow Emilia Vergeri. The following review was written regarding the later: “Ballester took over the audience thanks to his art and sympathy. He was acclaimed in the prologue and he had to do a replay after a large and loud applause. The excellent baritone was cheered by the enthusiastic audience. After the replay the kind artist asked them to stop the deserved clapping and asked them something else: Ricardo Martin wasn't fully recovered but would make his best to satisfy the audience. He then asked the audience to take this into account”. This information was published in all newspapers.

1919 03 10 San Juan de Puerto Rico Caricatura propia  1919 03 11 Puerto Rico El Imparcial Caricatura de Lucia Fernandez Flores

San Juan de Puerto Rico (1919)

Self Cartoon

"El Imparcial", Puerto Rico (1919)

Cartoon of Lucía Fernández

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