Birmingham Royal Ballet's Passion and Ecstasy

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Birmingham Royal Ballet were in imperious form with a thrilling production of Passion and Ecstasy, which featured Carmina Burana.

Passion and Ecstasy

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Hippodrome

Review by Andy Richardson

In seeking to describe Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of Carmina Burana – which is one half of their present Passion and Ecstasy production – all superlatives seem inadequate.

It is beyond sensational, beyond moving, beyond thrilling. BRB director David Bintley has created a masterwork that will live long in the memories of those who witnessed his electrifying, tender and deeply intelligent work.

The work was mind-blowing, quite simply, sweeping the audience away in a cavalcade of dramatic jumps and phrases; combining stunning balllet and an incredible vocal performance from Ex Cathedra with the beautiful musicianship of the resident orchestra.

Carmina Burana was an experience, rather than merely an evening out: it was an event to savour in which members of the audience were transported to some far off and magical place.


The work was preceded by a performance of Allegri Diversi, which served as an amuse bouche for the main event. If Carmina Burana was all blood and thunder, all fire and passion, then Allegri Diversi was high art.

Graceful, evocative and absurdly inventive, the piece was characterised by glittering poses and impossibly high jumps and fast turns. It was cutting edge, contemporary ballet at its energetic and breathless best.

Carmina Burana, meanwhile, started in dramatic style, with a single female dancer dressed in black, looking like some evil, man-eating vamp. It was story-telling at its best, with the massed ranks of BRB taking to the stage in colourful costume to recount a sensual and dramatic tale of forbidden pleasures and physical temptations.

Daring, vibrant, rousing and emotionally charged; the dancers set alongside Carl Orff's spellbinding choral tour de force was a feast for the senses. Live entertainment does not get better than that.

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