Tragedy and death were never far away in the works of Federico Garcia Lorca, and in this production Beppe Menegatti has taken the stirring gypsy play Nozze di Sangue (Blood Wedding Bodas de Sangre) the poet wrote in 1932 for his vagabond theatre, La Barracca, to create a ballet, drawing on music by the Spanish composer, Joaqun Turina (1882-1949), interspersed with songs whose words and music are both by Garcia Lorca himself. The plot of the play is pretty simple young man with terrible, possessive mother is engaged to young girl who is in love with another young man who is inconveniently already married to the first young girls cousin. This leads to great complications at the wedding itself and then to a duel between the two men, in which both die. Grief all round. This is all very straightforward and quite enough on its own to provide strong emotion, but Menegatti has decided to overlay the tale with other elements which, while interesting, do not add much to the drama. We have, therefore, figures dressed vaguely but recognizably as Fascists, a reference to Garcia Lorcas position as an anti-Fascist icon, who met his death at the hands of Falangists. There is a death figure which does not appear in the original tragedy, and seems slightly superfluous as at no time do we need reminding that this is not a jolly village feast. There is also an interlude depicting one of Garcia Lorcas songs, in which a handsome young torero is gored to death; this may have a place in that it is colourful and Spanish but seems otherwise unrelated directly to the plot.

Choreography is by the Belgian Luc Bouy, and is economical and straightforward, if at times slightly repetitive. Costumes and sets by Elena Puliti are simple and effective.

Amongst the performers, Fabio Grossi as Leonardo, the married lover, is exceptionally fine and convincing, while Carla Fracci as The Mother, at once drawing on her decades of dancing experience while at the same time defying those decades with her freshness and suppleness, puts on a deeply moving and impeccable performance of the highest class. Also deserving of particular mention is Alma Manera, as the gypsy singer. Garcia Lorca was a highly skilled musician and composer as well as poet, and she sings the songs selected by Menegatti to accompany this ballet with rich and passionate tones, a strong touch of colour which enormously enhances the drama of the danced action.

Teatro dellOpera di Roma at the Teatro Nazionale, Via del Viminale 51, Rome

Tel. 06 481601 www.opera.roma.it, 16 November 2005 Further performances 18, 19, 20 November.