Festivals: Romantic Revival

Undulating across the stage, eight shapely young ballerinas mimicked the sensuous rhythms of a belly dance. Portraying Bedouin tribesmen, a chorus of 150 men sang a lusty hymn to Allah. At sunrise, the wailing voice of the muezzin filled the concert hall, summoning the faithful to prayer. "O lonely night, last forever," crooned a tenor, looking across the moonlit sands. "You've made me learn to live and love."

These Rombergian sights and sounds at Butler University in Indianapolis were not a revival of Desert Song but of much hoarier musical fare: the...

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