by Mario Carrión

This year 15 regular corridas plus 2 with rejoneadores took place in the Plaza of the Maestranza in Seville. The Feria started on Easter Sunday with Curro Romero, "Joselito" and Enrique Ponce on the cartel, continuing the following Sunday with a rejoneador corrida and ending with the famous and brave corrida of María Luisa Domínguez on Monday, April 21st. The anticipated mano-a-mano between "El Tato" -Pepín Líria, the two best matadors of the '96 Feria, fighting bulls of the '96 trophy winner bull breeder Sánchez Ibarguen, was cancelled because of the rain.

The Feria has been an entertaining and interesting one. There have been many good performances and a few unsuccessful ones. Three matadors were gored, one very seriously. On Tuesday, April 8th, Franco Cardeño, was overtaken by the bull when giving a larga cambiada at the toril gate. The horn entered his mouth and injured one side of his face. The scene was dramatic. Fortunately none of the vital organs were compromised and, in spite of the gravity of the wound, Franco will be able to fight soon; although his face will be deformed for life. Pepín Líria and Víctor Puerto also were gored, but their injuries were less severe. Both showed tremendous courage remaining in the ring, although bleeding to finish their performances.

"Joselito" has been declared "The Best Matador" of the '97 Feria. He performed in three corridas. In his second appearance with Manolo Gonzalez bulls he cut three ears leaving the ring triumphantly by the" Puerta del Principe", an honor that very few matadors have received in their careers. Although he only participated in one corrida, "El Tato" received the "Best Faena" award for his spectacular performance with a very temperamental bull of the bull breeder Victorino Martín, on April 11. In the same corrida, Pepín Líria cut one ear on each of his bulls, and was gored by his last bull. He paid a high price for his success but, as a result, after the Feria he was one of the most admired toreros in Seville.

Rivera Ordoñez also cut two ears in the second of his three corridas. Rivera Ordoñez has proven to be a real figura of bullfighting. He has succeeded fighting animals of proven difficulty and danger with great art and daring, . High points of the Feria were the quites performed by Rivera Ordoñez and "Joselito", competing to outdo each other with their cape work.

Victor Puerto also paid with blood for his success. In his first corrida he completed a very fine and varied faena with his first bull and, after the killing, the public demanded that the president grant the ear of the animal to the brave young matador, but the president unjustly denied him the trophy. He was booed after Víctor completed two triumphal turns around the ring. In his second corrida he could not do much with uncooperative bulls. But in his farewell to the Feria he cut an ear on his first bull, and was gored when trying to do to the same on his second bull. In Seville Victor showed that he is a great candidate to become a figura.

The great star Enrique, Ponce although he cut an ear in his second bull in the Easter Sunday corrida, he had no luck with his other five animals. They were rather weak and slow, offering Ponce very little chance to perform with brilliance. Ponce tried hard to please and fought with courage. The audience acknowledged his effort, at times with sympathetic silence and at other times with applause.

Four more matadors left Seville as winners. "El Litri" was a revelation by fighting a bull in a very artistic manner. He is famous for his daring and dedication but not for bullfighting in a classic way...well, not anymore since he proved in one of his faenas that he is capable of performing very artistically and classically. He was awarded an ear and earned the admiration of the aficionados. "Chamaco" cut an ear with a noble and brave animal of the famous "Pedrajas". His courageous faena was a combination of classic passes and tremendista ones. The diminutive matador Domingo Valderrama earned the ear of one of the legendary Miura bulls. The animal was taller than the man, and yet Domingo fought with great class, art and grace. "El Niño del Tentadero", an almost forgotten young matador, who was given the opportunity to fight in the Feria, took advantage of the chance by cutting an ear from the only bull that he killed.

Novillero Dávila Miura received his alternativa from Emilio Muñoz on April 10. He performed well, and could have cut an ear but because he failed to kill fast, he onlyhad a vuelta al ruedo. The audience liked his performance and was anticipating his repetition, but he felt ill and missed it.

Emilio Muñoz, "Jesulín de Ubrique" and "El Codobés" had mediocre performances. Based upon their status as figuras, the public expected more from them than they were willing or able to give. They did not fail but neither they succeed. Fernando Cepeda, "El Fundi", Oscar Higares y Javier Vázquez had acceptable performances, but they did find the success that they need to advance their careers.

On the negative side we can enter the performances of José Ortega, Manolo Cortés, and Julio Aparicio. José, after having an obscure performance in his first corrida, did not take advantage of the good quality of a great bull in his second corrida. He received a strong show of disapproval from the audience. The veteran Manolo Cortés took the corrida with the only purpose of saying farewell to his native city. He did not try to do anything of artistic value with his bulls. He should have walked away without saying goodbye. The performance of Julio Aparicio was disastrous. He is a young matador possessing all the qualities for being a figura, but with two good bulls he did absolutedly nothing... other than showing disinterest in fighting.
The corrida of María Luisa Domínguez has earnedthe Maestranza Trophy "The Best Corrida of the Feria". Other good corridas were Manolo Gonzalez, Victorino Martín and Miura. On the contrary, several bull breeders, such as the great Domecq, sent some well presented bulls to Seville which, after the picking, lost strength and combativeness. Their behavior in the ring failed to spark emotion in the stands and diminished the merit of the good labor of the performers who, generally speaking, tried their best.

The '97 Taurine Feria of Seville has been a good one. Seville has seen the veteran "Joselito" charm its aficionados; has confirmed Rivera Ordoñez an important figura; has placed "El Tato", Pepín Líria and Victor Puerto closer to became figuras; has witnessed how "El Litri" turned into an artistic torero; and has continued adoring ist eternal Curro Romero who, as a senior citizen of 63, still continues tospreading small samples of his unique charismatic toreo. Also the Sevillian fan has shown his preference for the classy style of bullfighting done with bulls of moderate size endowed with strength and mobility.