Soledad Barrio, the headliner and only female member of Noche Flamenca, was injured last Sunday and did not appear. A few members of the audience left and demanded refunds. The rest of us stayed put, basking in an astonishing display of male virtuosity by singers, guitarists and two dancers whose style and attack were radically different.
Under the direction of Martin Santangelo — on a stage stripped to stone-and-brick walls and containing only a few lighting instruments and simple chairs — the artists are a tight team, performing as much for one another as for the crowd. The singers move; the dancers sing. Spectators feel free to cheer and comment, to shout “Ole!” at powerful moments.
Antonio Jiménez, a smallish man who looks as much like a priest as the tightly wound dancer he proves to be, hammers the floor with his pale wooden heels and beats on his body with his hands. Juan Ogalla, a larger, more flamboyant guy practically popping out of his suit, displays frustration and exasperation — emotions common to flamenco, an art form with roots in the dispossession of Sephardic Jews, Arabs, Moriscos and Gypsies.
Barrio, a stunning dancer who operates from a strong, still center, should be back onstage by now; don’t miss the chance to absorb this troupe’s brilliance, among the finest flamenco Spain has to offer.