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Operetta Review Sinister fun as Tiger Lillies plunge into ballad bloodbath

Corrido de la Sangre
HOME, Manchester/Touring

 

COMMISSIONED by HOME as part of their Viva! Spanish and Latin American festival, the Tiger Lillies bring their macabre Day of the Dead operetta to Manchester.

The trio of minstrels have toured the world with their uniquely anarchic Brechtian street operas and, as their founder and band leader Martyn Jacques (pictured)boasts, “We will play songs about anything that doesn’t involve beautiful blonde girls and boys running in the meadow.”

Relishing the dark underbelly slithering beneath polite society, their repertoire revels in the world of drug dealers, murderers and prostitutes, where life is clouded in violence and despair, and in Corrido de la Sangre the band tells the story in song of vicious drug baron Don Hector.

He tortures and murders a singer of corrido popular ballads and his band in a fit of jealousy and the murdered troop return every year on the Day of the Dead to haunt their killer. They relate the story of their love for the beautiful Maria, who ends up disposing of her despotic lover and cashes in his stash of cocaine.

The musicians improvise with saws, jaw harps and wooden crates as well as more traditional instruments such as an accordion, bass guitar and ukulele and Jacques also employs what must be the smallest guitar ever, seemingly fashioned from a cut-off fretboard.

As the trio sing their macabre songs, the terrible tale is played out against the backdrop of video projection and shadow puppets. The lyrics are very clever and the light, breezy voice of Jacques accentuates the contrast with the sinister world of corrido and the villainous Don Hector.

Nothing particularly profound happens, but this is an enjoyable mix of anarchy, music and ghoulish humour.

Runs at HOME until May 5, box office: homemcr.org and then tours until August 29, details: tigerlillies.com

 

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