Flamenco Hoy brings together 24 marvelous dancers, singers and instrumentalists (three of them pictured above) under the brilliant eye of the Spanish film director Carlos Saura, an auteur who has been obsessed with Spanish culture and, in particular, dance, for decades. The participants in the group’s stirring show bring a wealth of blood, sweat tears, humor and pure passion to the production. The level of virtuosity from all involved is astonishing — feet and fingers in constant motion, vocalists seemingly tearing their lungs from their bodies in an attempt to convey primal emotions (at least that’s what I assumed, my Spanish being poor at best). And the connections to a jazz sensibility became clear as performers conveyed the appearance of spontaneous improvisation while obviously being fully in charge of form and function. In all, Flamenco Hoy staged a thrilling show.
Rufus Wainwright also knows how to pour on the drama, though the singer-songwriter usually does his pouring with a knowing wink in his eye. Returning to city where he was raised for a well-attended and enthusiastically received free concert, Wainwright sensed just when to venture inward, bringing the audience into his private universe, and when to include them in communal celebration. At times the show became a family affair as sisters Lucy and Martha took the stage, as well as aunt Anna, one half of the wonderful and sorely missed McGarrigle Sisters. Teddy Thompson, providing supporting guitar and vocals throughout the evening, joined Wainwright for a touching version of father Loudon Wainwright’s “One Man Guy.” Yet the highlight of the show may have been Wainwright’s encore, a gorgeous solo version of hometown hero Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” With the crowd heartily singing the chorus, you might assume this was Montreal’s official theme song.
Photo credit: Victor Diaz Lamich