Flamenco passion, US musical-style

Fusing the style of American musicals with Gypsy music and Shakespearean romance, the musical «Los Tarantos» is one of this summer’s big treats at the Athens Festival. Scheduled for tonight and tomorrow at the Herod Atticus Theater, the performance tells the «Romeo and Juliet»-like tale of a romance between the children of two rival families. Juana, the daughter of the mighty Taranto family, meets Ismael, of the archrival Zorongos clan, at a large Gypsy wedding in Barcelona. The young man is charmed by her beautiful dancing and decides to woo her, in spite of his father’s ire. The play «Los Tarantos» was written in 1960 by Alfredo Mana and was adapted into a musical by Emilio Hernandez, who wrote the libretto and the lyrics. The musical was performed for the first time just last year, and has since toured in several parts of the world to great critical acclaim. The choreography is by choreographer/dancer Javier Lattore, one of Spain’s most prominent flamenco choreographers and a former principal dancer of Spain’s National Ballet. The cast is led by dancer/singer Ana Salazar – who triumphed in France in a tribute performance to Edith Piaf – as Juana and Juan Carlos Lerida as Ismael. Rising star Carmelilla Montoya performs the role of Soledad, Ismael’s widowed mother who tries to put out the fires of hate burning between the two rival families, while Ismael’s father, Risendo, is played by Candy Roman. Juan Gomez, also known as Chicuelo, is responsible for the music, in collaboration with the «nuevo flamenco» artist and the man who discovered Paco de Lucia, Tomatito. Chicuelo has gained a reputation worldwide for his innovative, modern approach to the genre. He participated in both the EXPO and the Bienal de Flamenco held in Seville, and has since undertaken numerous tours throughout Europe, Japan and the United States, as well as having participated with outstanding success in the Festival de Jovenes Flamencos in Paris. Eduardo Cortes conducts the orchestra, which comprises two guitars, a violin, cello, keyboards, bass and percussion. Tickets for the performance are available from the Hellenic Festival box office (39 Panepistimiou, tel 210.928.2900) and from the Herod Atticus Theater itself (Dionysiou Areopagitou Street).

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