The five musicians who make up tango string quintet QuinTango (two violins, cello, bass, and piano) make their eighth appearance at Spoleto this year, an experience they enjoy as much as the crowds who consistently make them a festival favorite. This year they're renting a house out on Folly to kick back and recharge energy cells between their many performances. "We travel from Argentina to France and Mexico, and all around the U.S., and one of our favorite places always is coming to Piccolo," says violinist Joan Singer.
Tango began in Paris around 1910 before becoming synonymous with Argentina, and is the national dance in Finland as well as having roots in Japan. It's that global flavor that gives QuinTango's music and dance such universal appeal.
QuinTango offers two distinct programs this year, classifying them as acts one and two. The first, "Paris and Latin Lovers," will feature "Jealousy," a 1920s European tango, and "La Cumparsita," the world's most well-known tango. Act two, "Viva Buenos Aires," includes "Adios Nonino" and "Balada para un Loco," both composed by Argentinean Astor Piazzolla. At some point in the shows, they also promise to play the tango used in the films Scent of a Woman and True Lies, "Por una Cabeza."
Accenting the music of the quintet are two professional dancers, recruited by the group in Argentina. The pair dons authentic clothing for the performances, outfits that Singer describes (at least for the "Paris" shows) as "very unusual, period costumes."
Singer provides narrative between songs, offering background and anecdotes, information on composers, and explanations of the dancers' movements. "Our goal is to take people to Paris or Buenos Aires for that 70-minute program, so they can get a sense of what was going on in the tango world in those places," says Singer. "The music is very accessible and easy to fall in love with. It's very gripping."
QUINTANGO • Piccolo Spoleto's Theatre Series • $25 • (1 hour 10 min.) • Paris and Latin Lovers: May 27 at 8 p.m.; May 28 at 9 p.m.; May 30 and June 1 at 6 p.m. • Viva Buenos Aires: May 28, 29 at 6 p.m.; May 30 at 9 p.m., June 2 at 2 p.m. • Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. • 554-6060