Last night the Ensemble for Early Music brought to the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater a medieval celebration filled with as many ingredients as a Christmas pudding. Loosely woven together by the encounter between Robin Hood and Friar Tuck, the production offers a delightful mixture of song and dance performed with exceptional enthusiasm by a fresh, young company.
A half-dozen wrought-iron chandeliers and a tapestry backdrop set the stage. With part of the troupe dressed in the bright green tunics of Robin Hood's men and another part in the robes and rakishly colored wigs of Friar Tuck's monks, the group entered singing and stepping gracefully to the sound of bagpipes. The music, both in selection and integrity of performance, was excellent, and the dances flowed with courtly charm. Again and again one was struck by the lusty, yet innocent, medieval spirit in which monks are expected to be sinful and maids to be pursued.
The true, pure sound of mezzo-soprano Judith Malafronte was a particular delight, as was the lightness of the dancers and the gentle virtuosity of the instrumentalists. The program will be repeated tonight at 8. A more merry evening would be difficult to find.