Andalusian Images of Carmina Burana

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norwich Theatre Royal

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Norwich Theatre Royal

The crash of the great bass drum and the tidal wave, that unforgettable, full-throated tune with words about fortune ruling the world announced the part that Carmina Burana is to play in Salvador Tavora's Spanish recreation of Carl Orff's dramatic music.

It is not set in medieval Germany but in Andalusia. This means that it can add the stamped out dances, the throb of a chorus of on-stage guitars, the passionate cry of solo singing and strong emotions of one of the region's religious festivals.

The cast is quite small, which makes for concentration, and nearly all Carmen de Giles' costumes are black and white. That is a very stylish limitation. The staging too is mostly quite simple. But the machine that has the quartet of dancers flying through the air makes a great impression. So does the Good Friday scene with its climax artfully held back and with smouldering incense adding an unusual scent to the auditorium.

A pair of horses also puts in an appearance, tall, stately and not at all phased by the glare of limelight or the roars of applause. They really don't do very much. But their mere presence, their way of conveying a feeling of power in reserve brings an extra dimension to the stage. It takes no more than a suggestion that they are moving their hooves in time with the music to show that they are content and to raise a ripple of appreciation.

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Lalo Tejada is the leading dancer, proudly poised on her tapping feet and raising her arms high over the cascade of flounces on her dress. Her partner is the energetic Marco Vargas. Though the choral music is recorded, vocal and instrumental performances on stage do more than enough to create the sense of life.

Juan Romero, the percussionist, in particular brings personality and vitality to the strong, varied rhythms that are the

very soul and character of this entertaining show.

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