Music: To Beat or Not to Beat

Hamlet came tooling onstage on a red motor scooter and sat eying three maniacal traffic signs: "To Be," "Not to Be," and "No Entry." He was tossing the skull of Yorick in the air, pondering how to flip his directional signals, when a stagehand reversed the "To Be" sign, revealing the words "To Egypt." Sure enough, Cleopatra appeared and started to shimmy.

Thus a capacity audience at Brussel's Royal Opera House was introduced to one of the most demented ballets ever staged: Choreographer Maurice Bejart's Such Sweet Thunder, set to music by Duke Ellington. Originally written for Canada's Stratford Shakespearean Festival, Thunder...

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