Television has offered Cubans opportunities to escape for decades. DIARIO DE CUBA turned to his followers to save some of the soap operas that left the most marks in his memory. Five titles of national production and another five foreign productions make up this list where the Cubans and Brazilians steal the space.
Batey day (1985)
Considered “the best of all time” and set in the 1960s, this soap opera was directed by Roberto Garriga after an adaptation of a radio soap opera written by Dora Alonso. Susana Pérez (Charito), Armando Tomey (Antonio Fresneda), Ramoncito Veloz (Reinaldo de Mendoza), Aurora Pita (Doña Gertrudis de Sandoval y Santa Cruz), Verónica Lynn (Doña Teresa), Luisa María Jiménez (the mulatto slave who Tojosa), and Idelfonso Tamayo (Liberato) played the main characters.
The soap opera marked the television debuts of Armando Tomey and Luisa María Jiménez. Tomey, in his leading role, was asked a lot. His catchphrase for posterity, “Oh, Charito, oh!” which caught the eye of many, is now fodder for countless memes. In contrast, Jiménez’s performance received many accolades.
Most of the series’ exterior filming took place in the colonial area of Trinidad.
Passion and Bias (1992)
Directed by former director Eduardo Macías, the novel recounts the love between the young Beatriz Lahera (Dianelys Brito) and the young Marcos Urquiza (Reynaldo Cruz) in Havana in 1915. The story ends with two love triangles consisting of Amalia Hinojosa (Nancy González) and the lawyer Alberto Zárate (César Évora).
It also featured the participation of Verónica Lynn, Corina Mestre, Tito Junco, Héctor Echemendía, Isabel Santos, Rolando Brito, Omar Valdés, Martha del Río, Anabel Leal, and Armando Tomey.
Brave Land (1997)
Based on the novel by Dora Alonso Half Moon, this drama directed by Xiomara Blanco, with more than 100 chapters, led to the popularity of Jacqueline Arenal (Verena Contreras) and Fernando Echevarría (Nacho Capitán). It is one of the Cuban soap operas with the largest audience, and Frank Fernández’s music is memorable.
Other characters in the drama are Silvestre Cañizo (Enrique Molina), Justa (Alina Rodríguez), and the girl Lila (Luisa María Jiménez). Mijail Mulkay, Maribel Rodríguez, Odalys Fuentes, and René de la Cruz, among others, also worked.
The Orphans of the Work (2000)
This soap opera focused on the colonial era of Cuba, has four women and a lottery as protagonists. The goal of La Obra Pía is to select four women who will receive 1,000 pesos, an amount that the winners will use as a wedding dowry or to enter the convent. Competitors must be orphans and white with a certificate of blood purity. This is the common thread of the plot, which reveals the social structure of the time and racial and gender discrimination. Susana Pérez, Luisa María Jiménez, Paula Alí, Mario Limonta, Silvia Águila, Blanca Rosa Blanco, and other actors made it one of the most remembered and best performed, according to the opinion of critics and the audience itself.
The plot of this novel, directed by Mirta González Perera and Ivo Herrera, revolves around a fashion house managed, with a strong hand, by María Antonieta, together with her secretary Alejandrina. Stormy relationships create a story where there is no shortage of funny and charming notes, with a masterful Nancy González in her negative character.
Brazilian soap opera and a Colombian one
The slave Isaura
This soap opera recreates Brazil in the middle of the 19th century. The plot tells the life of Isaura, a white slave. The work, written by Gilberto Braga and directed by Herval Rossano and Milton Gonçalves, was brought to the screen in two versions: one broadcast for the first time in 1976 on the Red Globo de Television network and another broadcast by Rede Record in the year 2006. It was the first that made the Cuban public fall in love with it.
Based on historical events, it was written by Wilson Aguiar Jr. and directed by Herval Rossano. Its 89 chapters, accompanied by Wagner Tiso’s soundtrack, moved Cubans at the end of the 1980s of the last century. The play introduced the young and talented actress Maitê Proença and the actor Gracindo Júnior to the island’s audience. Other special performances were given by Maria Fernanda, Bia Seidl, Sérgio Britto, Abrahao Farc, and Mayara Magri. He achieved great success in Brazil and outside its borders in many countries in the region, such as Cuba.
This TV Globo production made Cubans sit on the couch during prime time for 201 nights. Directed by Wolf Maya, Carlos Magalhães, and Ignácio Coqueiro, it stars Gloria Pires playing the role (twins Ruth and Raquel, protagonist and villain), with Guilherme Fontes (Marcos Asunción) and the antagonistic participation of Raúl Cortez (Virgilio Asuncion). The character of Toño da Lúa, a fool and friend of Ruth famous for carving women in the sand, is unforgettable.
This soap opera from the Globo network, broadcast in its country between 1988 and 1989, was a source of escape for Cubans during the difficult years of the “Special Period.” From the work created by Gilberto Braga, Aguinaldo Silva, and Leonor Bassères came the Cuban “paladars,” which began to appear underground and were later assimilated by the government. Small private Cuban restaurants take the name of Raquel’s (Regina Duarte) food company in the novel.
The soap opera brought to the Cuban screen actors such as Antônio Fagundes, the antagonistic Beatriz Segall, Glória Pires, Reginaldo Faria, Carlos Alberto Riccelli, Cássio Gabus Mendes, Lídia Brondi, Cássia Kis, Renata Sorrah, and other great actors.
As recalled by DIARIO DE CUBA follower Nena Ortega on Facebook, Calm Water “paralyzed Cuba” at the time it was broadcast in the summer of 1998: “At three o’clock in the afternoon, not a single person could be seen on the street; it was a success.”
Three main men, three young men who seek revenge for the suicide of their younger sister, make Cuban women fall in love with them: Juan Carlos Gutiérrez (Juan Reyes), Juan Sebastián Aragón (Scar Reyes), and Luigi Aycardi (Franco Reyes). “People ran away from work to meet him. Doing any paperwork at that time was pointless,” recalls Esther.
If we allow the Cubans to have freedom to remember, there will not be ten titles to choose from among all the soap operas broadcast on the island. Doña Bárbara, Rose of the credit, Martine lost in the forest. Double play, In the rhythm of the song, The Hidden Face of the Moon, The Next Victim, The King of the Cow, Lady of Fate, Coffee with the Aroma of a woman…