Fiesta Cubana: Omara Portuondo & Band
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On New Year's Eve 2009, Havana's legendary Tropicana nightclub celebrated its seventieth birthday with colorful revue, and the evening's special guest was the world famous Omara Portuondo. Together with her five man band - which ranges in style from the Cuban guajira, bolero, mambo and son to elements of jazz - the grande dame of traditional Cuban singing offers a delightful contrast to the exuberant joy in dancing shown by the Tropicana Ballet.
"Cuba remained a musical enigma for most Americans for decades until 1997, when guitarist Ry Cooder introduced the Buena Vista Social Club, a group of the island nation's most influential performers who brought the sounds of Cuba to life for a new generation of fans. BVSC member and singer Omara Portuondo resurfaced this past New Year's Eve to headline the 70th anniversary celebration of Havana's famed Tropicana nightclub, a performance captured on this newly released DVD. The 80-year-old singer is in fine form, offering a mix of Cubanguajira, bolero, mambo and son song styles with her five-piece ensemble. Hard-core fans may be disappointed by how much time the colorful, kitschy Tropicana "ballet"--with costumes as outrageous as any Vegas lounge performance--spend on screen, but the entire show glimmers with the energy and style that beats at the heart of Cuban music." -Michael Muckian -- www.expressmilwaukee.com/article-11034-fiesta-cubana-with-omara-portuondo-band-(euroarts).html
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Marc S. Taras
Host of Cuban Fantasy on 89.1 FM WEMU, Ypsilanti, Michigan
You can listen online and on demand!
Wonderful and most entertaining. Real value for money! I wish we could get other DVDs celebrating the music and dances of Cuba 1930 - 1960 celebrated by the artists from Cuba.
The recording itself is as spectacular as the show in so far as it has vivid and vibrant colour rendition, accurate and engaging camera work plus good sound presented in DTS 5.1, DD 5.1 and stereo.
The language options are limited to the 'interview' with Omara. Unfortunately this does not extend to the lyrics of her seven songs which communicate to the audience almost as if in conversation. This communication is compromised by a lack of translation and could have been solved with sub-titles. The dancing is energetic and colourful and aims at being a spectacle. This it achieves when considered in its own right.
The bonus interview is a forthright description by Omara as to how she, almost by accident, became engaged initially as a dancer. She must have been very fit in those days! Later she developed her film and then her singing career for which she is now mostly known. Throughout this bonus the subtitles work perfectly.
No sub-titles are required for the second bonus which is a self-contained act by two acrobats who perform feats of balance requiring immense strength at slow speed on their stage which consists of a small table. This is sustained gymnastics performed at gruelling slow speed which I would suspect would impress even the most advanced Olympic athletes. This will be a section of the disc that will be shown to appropriate visitors and which communicates without any need for explanation.
Overall this is a completely successful representation of the Tropicana show and of Omara Portuondo and her band. More extensive use of subtitling or of song content information within the supplied sleeve notes would have improved the experience for non-Cubans. This would be a fine disc for anyone wishing to re-live a holiday experience including the Tropicana show.