July 25, 2021

actress, lover of Felipe IV and abbess



Ron Lala, the theater company, spoke of the Golden Age as a “century of now,” which they called one of their assemblies. And they don’t lack reason. Saving the distances, there are few situations that unite us with then. He has also shown it this way, this week, the Cervantes Institute with an exhibition, “As wise as courageous”, in which he wanted to rescue those female names of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that were forgotten. Firms tarnished by people like Cervantes, Tirso, Quevedo, Calderón, Lope, etc., which is not a little, but that existed. Definitely, authors who were there and that historiography has ended up covering with men. In these, the sample dusts, among others, authors such as Ángela de Sotomayor, the Nun Ensign, Margarita Anglada and Marcela de San Félix. To which, of course, we must add the media Sr. Juana Inés, Santa Teresa and María de Zayas. However, he has not been given much hype, historically speaking, to Ana Caro –Also present in the exhibition–, a playwright and poet «able to dispute and win literary contests to the greats».

That’s how it counts Elvira Menéndez (Ferrol, 1949), author who has just published «Life of an actress» (Editions B). Title in which you immerse yourself in that golden Spain where the theater occupied a privileged place. They highlighted then interpreters like María de Heredia, Francisca Baltasara, Jusepa Vaca and, of course, María Inés Calderón «La Calderona», the protagonist of the story: «A woman who apparently was not beautiful, but she had a lot of grace and charm. In addition to reciting, singing and dancing very well, ”explains Menéndez of a character who has taken four years of research to novel his life and, by extension, that of“ the stages of the time ”, who also was an actress.

Lies and pens

Thus, he looks at these comedy pens in Madrid de las Letras and stroll through the Mentidero de los Representantes and San Felipe, in Puerta del Sol, and through the Corrales la Cruz and del Príncipe, current Spanish Theater. «It was there that the public came to receive news, talk about gossip, who was going to write a new work …». Entering that redoubt of freedom that has always been the theater. «While in almost nowhere in Europe women were allowed to work on tables, in Spain, yes. They said they had to accompany their husbands and they were allowed to act, ”says Menéndez. Yes, to get on stage, they had to get married. «The frequent thing was to do it of convenience and, often, with a homosexual so that both won».

It was a contradictory profession. On the one hand, they were considered “non grata” people. The comedians were, it was said, “people raged in vices and evils” and, in addition, “they were not buried in sacred,” he explains. But, in the same way, «They did not live wage discrimination. They became heads of companies and directed works. They knew how to read, write, speak in public, traveled and had their own money ». They even enjoyed a privilege that not everyone had: freedom of movement and being able to attend the gatherings with the first swords. They went to them when the workday allowed it: «They rehearsed in the morning, at three o’clock they acted and in the evening they went to the houses of the nobles. They worked all day, like wild animals, and although the public loved them, they had a bad concept of them in general.

In one of those proceedings in the Court, it was when La Calderona met who would end up being his lover, Felipe IV. «They were women much more interesting than average. Only the very rich had a certain culture, and others did not even bother – Menéndez explains. That is why, because of their profession, because they were in contact with intellectuals, they had another level and were looked at with other eyes by those above. It was because of these circumstances, also because it was a real whim, that the monarch noticed an actress who already had his heart occupied by Ramiro Núñez de Guzmán. But when the king got in the way, the lover had no choice but, says Menéndez, bow his head: «I have to offer my lord a good that I am not in a position to dispute». So it was. La Calderona became the favorite of Felipe IV. They even say that he took her to the privileged balcony of the Bakery House, in the Plaza Mayor. Something that Isabel de Borbón, wife of the monarch did not like, and so he had to find another place more discreet: the balcony of the «Marizápalos», as it was known in honor of the song.

They had a baby that was torn from the arms of his mother and baptized as “son of the earth” for not wanting to recognize the king. And there the love ended. As Menéndez has inquired, “the bastard could be a maneuver to achieve offspring that resisted him”; why, although he was not distinguished from first, Juan José de Austria would end up with blue blood. Felipe IV, despite the fact that the actress never stopped loving Núñez de Guzmán even though she betrayed him, he ordered his entry into a convent, in Valfermosa de las Monjas, in Alcarria, where the interpreter would lose contact with life, the theater, her life.

On the run with the bandit

So far the more or less firm data of María Inés Calderón arrive and the legend would begin. Of start, It was said that he died in closing, already under the name of Mrs. Maria de San Gabriel, Abbess. But it has also been written that he fled: that he managed, on the one hand, to escape from God’s mandate and escape, along with a bandit, to the Sierra de la Calderona (Valencia) and, in another version, that he returned to Madrid, where he would welcome the guild of actors: « A kind of union that gave relief to interpreters who were in poor condition or who were already older. There seems to be data that helped her. Which would mean that he did not die in the convent as they officially said ».

The few concrete data of María Inés Calderón have served to increase the legend. Also regarding your family. It is not uncommon to find references to Pedro Calderón de la Barca as father of the creature. But far from it. It seems that, being very small, appeared at the door of Juan Calderón, a lender of the theater world and father of Juana, also an actress, although not as renowned as «La Calderona».

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