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Spanish wonder of fiery Carmen; Carmen - Birmingham Hippodrome.

Byline: Alf Bennett

The only wonder about the flamenco production of Carmen at Birmingham's Hippodrome is that it took so long to come about.

The traditional story of the tobacco factory worker and her tumultuous and bloody love life is set in Seville, in the heart of Andalusia, spiritual home of flamenco.

The legend gave rise to the hugely popular Bizet opera - now here it returns to its roots in this 'Andalusian flamenco folk opera' version performed by the renowned Cuadra de Sevilla company.

The work is created and directed by Sevillan Salvador Tavora whose work over 30 years has won accolades throughout the world.

But he has a special feel for the Carmen legend - his great-great-grandmother was a 'cigarrera', a cigarette-maker for the Seville Tobacco Factory, our protagonist's work-place.

The flamenco form is ideally suited to express this tale of love, betrayal and death with its heart-felt laments and passionate dance.

A 26-strong Spanish band of bugles and drums and three guitarists provide the musical accompaniment for the breath-taking dancing of the two principals, Lalo Tejada as Carmen and Marco Vargas as Don Jose Lizarrabengoa. But they would be very fine people indeed if they did not feel just the slightest twinge of jealousy for the performer who steals the show - a magnificent white stallion.

The latter's duet with Carmen is the piece de resistance of what is a stunning spectacle throughout.

Carmen runs nightly until Saturday with afternoon shows today (Wednesday) and Saturday.

CAPTION(S):

Carmen gets a new lease of life from the Cuadra de Sevilla company
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 16, 2003
Words:260
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