Carmen

CHRISTOPHER SMITH No, not the opera by Bizet, though a couple of his best-known tunes are included, but an Andalusian opera by Salvador Tavora, who is also the director.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

No, not the opera by Bizet, though a couple of his best-known tunes are included, but an Andalusian opera by Salvador Tavora, who is also the director.

It is performed with irresistible vigour by La Cuadra de Sevilla, in a production that has great style as well as vivid colour to go with pulsating rhythm and tragic passions.

The action is flanked by uniformed bandsmen on stage, a trio of throbbing guitars, side-drums with their crisp beat, and, best of all, a chorus of bugles, high pitched and reedy, with an ambiguity about tuning that enriches the character of the melodic lines.


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To this musical accompaniment, with bells tolling to add depth to critical moment, the familiar story is played out as a folk tale.

Solo songs strike a weird passionate note, and stamping dances at accelerating speed convey the pent up emotions, the hearts that beat wildly though convention cannot be denied. Though individuals would like to break free, they almost exist within the context of the group.

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The part of Carmen is taken by long-legged Lalo Tejada, and Marco Vargas is Don Jose.

Though the whole cast throws itself into the hour-and-a-half of action, it is the white stallion coming on towards the end that steals the show.

Imperturbable and stately, he wheels and turns, jogs to the music and does not shy when applauded, taking his important role in his stride.

t Carmen continues at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday May 17. Box office: 01603 630000.

Christopher Smith

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