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June 30, 1965 - Image 3

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1965-06-30
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BIZET, MOZART FANTASTIC...

.BELLINI, PUCCINI, VE RDI POOR

Some Disappointing 1964-65 Opera Recordings

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By RANIERI DI SORBELLOr
For the operaphile 1964-1965 mightt
be considered a very good year indeed;
however, not everything that has beent
issued can be considered artisticallyt
superior, for sprinkled among the gemsf
have also been a number of items which
could be considered mere paste. Strange
as it may seem, with the advent of stereo
much has been accomplished for operat
aurally, though little artistically. Invar-
iably it seems that the most satisfying
recordings can be found among the mon-
aural issues rather than the stereo. t
The recordings which will probably re-
ceive the widest attention from record,
buyers are Bellini's "Norma;" Bizet's
"Carmen;" Mozart's "Die Zauberflute;"
Puccini's "Tosca" and Verdi's "La Forza
del Destino." The Bizet and Mozart works
can be considered great achievements for
the grammaphone. The Bellini, Puccini,
and Verdi works should cause a con-
siderable amount of consternation among
the devotees of the particular sopranos
involved in each venture as well as opera
enthusiasts in general.
The biggest disappointment will come
to those who were looking forward to
the new "Tosca" with Maria Callas, for
from this artist we expected most, espe-
cially after having heard her triumphal
return to the Metropolitan in the same
role; but, alas, her recorded effort of the
stereo "Tosca" is not "for history" as
advertised. It would have been much
wiser for all concerned to have delayed
the recording sessions until a more for-
tunate time. December, 1964, certainly
was not a "vintage" month for the Callas
voice, and her great artistic instincts
also seem to have been in abeyance; for-
tunately, this was not the case at her
Metappearances, which should come as
some consolation to Callas admirers. The
other artists in the recording are in such
fine form that it does seem a shame that
their splendid efforts have not been
complemented fully by La Divina, for
the second time less than divine. Let it
be said that Mie. Callas is never less
than interesting, but had we not her old
"Tosca" with de Sabata for comparison,
we would be less harsh. The loss of Wal-
ter Legge. former artistic director of EMI-
Angel Records, has been felt much sooner
than expected.
Bellini's "Norma" seems to be afflicted
by exactly the opposite malady - too
much voice and not enough musical or
artistic insight and temperament. The
recording makes it apparent how wise
was Miss Sutherland's decision not to
undertake Norma at the Met. It is un-
fortunate that such a potentially out-
standing singer has consistently been
given such uninspired musical direction.
In this case it is all the more to be re-
gretted, since wehave had but two great
Normeas in the past half century: Pon-
selle and Callas. Mss Sutherland's old
faults (sic habits) are still with her, and
Bonynge is not the man to discipline her;
for he evidently does. not think of them
as faults. The Sutherland-Bonynge com-
bination does not seem to have taken all
the history of 19th century bel canto to
heart-but only the portraits with which
they sprinkle all their albums copiously.
Being familiar with old Shakespearean
prints does not enable one to pass for a
Shakespearean Scholar.
Now we have arrived at the final dis-
appointing performances: Verdi's "La
Forza del Destino." This recording goes
the way of all star-studded operatic al-
bums on RCA Victor-to the Victrola
label-but wait, alas, this one will have
to wait a few years before it can arrive,
for RCA already has a star-studded
"Forza" which only recently joined this
illustrious company. Miss Price, Victor's
new house diva, has committed to discs
another routine performance to rank
with her "Tosca," "Butterfly," and "Car-
men," though the adjective is not appli-
cable to her Verdi "Requiem." This same
label of "routine" can be ascribed to the
rest of the performers. Richard Tucker,
on whom we could always count to out-
sob the Italians, does not even do that

much. Robert Merrill's name is synono-
mous with the label. His voice in this
recording has lost most of its beauty
which formerly served as an excuse for
his participation. I feel that he has mar-

red too many performances; however,
this is not one of them-here he can be
considered a contributor. That Schippers
descends to join such colleagues cer-
tainly comes as a shock, especially after
the brilliant work of conducting he did
for London's recording of Verdi's "Mac-
beth."
Now to more cheerful news; artistic
achievements can still prosper in spite of
technical progress. Bizet's "Carmen" has
received its most interesting and exciting
interpretation on discs for the team of
Callas, Gedda, and Pretre. The perform-
ance is also the most idiomatic without
being marred by lack of vocal prowess,
which heretofore has afflicted most of
the French performances. By this I do
not mean to imply that none of the pre-
vious recordings had any real merit. I
can think of one' which I certainly would
not discard, and that is the Victoria de
los Angeles ~and Sir Thomas Beecham
performance, which is really worthy to
be ranked with the Callas "Carmen."
Miss de los Angeles is an exciting .Car-
men for the sheer elegance and vocal
beauty which she contributes.
One need only listen to Callas interpret
the recitative preceding "Habanera" and
in the same act "Chanson et Melodrama" Joant S
to realize how tame and commonplace
most of the others are. Some of the Car- Mozart'
mens can be awardedprizes for benality, a splendid
among these I would like to cite Mes.' Otto Ken
Price and Stevens. The former's uncalled ret the
for interpolationof an high A in the dialogue.
"Seguedilla" and her "sprech stimme" that the
approach to the Duo in Retz with Don spoken di
Jose has to be heard to be believed. Miss lio" woul
Stevens' portrayal can be described as Mozart we
the hip swinging and bosom heaving tion conce
variety. Gottlob F
Book Covers
INVENTING THE FUTURE: by Den- Gabor "p
nis Gabor, Alfred A. Knopf, New merely by
York, 1964, $4.95, 238 pages. of overkill
the Chine
DENNIS GABOR opens his book by The qu
saying that our civilization faces ing leisur
three great dangers: destruction by nuc- commonwn
lear war, overpopulation, and the "Age in which
of Leisure." which his
I had enthusiastically ordered this book work.g.
from Knopf because I heartily believe inp i preopE
the urgency for education for the "Age of mlneiuen:
Leisure," and would welcome reading a ida und
book with new ideas. Unfortunately, tinga t
Gabor's book isn't the answer. The word .n)lts
I must use to describe the book is-sillyn d.)n At
Taking the problems of the world, he Mon man
discusses them, one at a time, and writes we contin
them off. "In not more than half a cen- their own
tury we shall be faced with a material "resign ou
shortage which cannot be solved by pres- ridden so
ent-day technology." But Gabor is con- old EngMi
fident that we'll be able to invent any- they prep
thing we need. their labc
After a brief digression into the Gabor c.) We
interpretation of the dynamics of the manent n
cold war, he dismisses that as not a real sides nd
problem. He uses the nuclear-missile- feeling of
deterrent-second strike- statistics to ents.
prove that we're .not going to be done in d.) A
by nuclear war. It's interesting that men creationE
ike Bertrand Russell and Walter-Millis the fore
can prove, with the same available data, of the in
a tremendously. more, pessimistic future. e.) We

MAGAZ IN E

Vol VI No. 7

Wednesday, June 30, 1965

9

m

0

I

I

M " A N t.,.,

5utherland: Disappointing in Recording of "Norma"

'"Die Zauberflute" has received
d performance at the hands of
nperer and associates. I do re-
omission of the Schickenader
One finds it hard to believe
man who refused to omit the
alogue from Beethoven's "Fide-
td reverse his stand for this
rork. Musically, my only objec-
ers the two ugly low notes that
Frick emits in behalf of Sar-

astro-these could have either been re-
recorded or totally omitted. Klemperer's
tempi do not seem too slow, and the
added stateliness he brings only benefits
this work, i.e. Pamina, Papgeno duet
"Beim Mannern, welche Liebe fuhlen."
There are too many celebrated artists
participating to be listed here; let it be
said that in this recording they have
lived up to their reputations-no mean
feat at that.

.........
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i

World Problems

moves" that deterrence works
stating the awesome statistics
J. (This was also written before
se had the Bomb.)
estion raised by Gabor-concern-
e revolves around "whether the
man can be happy in a world
his security is assured and in
time is spent between mild
. and healthy recreation." He
a few different means of mak-
e happy with their new found
esurgence of crafts - occupa-
erapy.
terns of self-discipline taught
e early years so that the com-
will not abuse his freedom. 'If
ue to permit parents to educate
children then we will have to
urselves to a crime and alcohol-
ciety." He then extols the harsh
sh schools and indicates that
pared the privileged classes for
ors as adults.
should also re-instate the per-
multi-generation family that re-
.er one roof. This would give a
continuity and purpose to par-
stress on feminine values of
and conservation would come to
and there would be diminution
asculine feelings of sttife.
need improvements in educa-

tional techniques so that we will be able
to make more people more educatable.
Education should be expanded to produce
amateur scientists who would enjoy the
discoveries of the world. These people
would be knowers rather than doers and
would represent a return in spirit to the
medieval student who reveled in having
all knowledge in his notebook.
Gabor is quite concerned with raising
the general knowledge level of the world,
He has a fairly low opinion of the "com-
mon man," -and thinks the world will be
better if common men would enjoy their
homecrafts and cease multiplying. He
talks a lot about "galloping imbecility."
Population explosion is Gabor's most
fearsome bete noir.
But he has one solution which will in-
crease the intelligence level and work to-
wards population control: a state regu-
lation of the number of children per
family. Most families should be permit-
ted two children, except "where both par-
ents can prove high qualifications in tal-
ents, health, beauty,, and heredity who
may be allowed three or more. He al-
lows that this may be difficult to insti-
tute, but he thinks it can be done if the
whole matter is "kept away from the
plane of moral passions, where it does
not belong, and must be dealt with on
the economic level."
Gabor has some equally helpful sug-
gestions for the "uncommon man." For
instance, indoctrination with the belief
that history has "come to an end." He
feels we also can reorient man's loyalties.
"The loyalty of post-historic man must
be for his family - and for the whole
of humanity, with nothing between these
two extremes but harmless voluntary af-
filiations, professional groups, brother-
hoods, and, at' most, political parties."
Gabor suffers from the affliction of
all "Children of Light" - a belief that
he can change the nature of men. Criti-
cism may also be offered from a less
lofty plane - I believe the man has
trouble with simple logic. He wants re-
institution of the multi-generation ex-
tended family, but he also thinks it's
necessary that parents be denied any in-
fluence on their children's education.
I'm also unisure who is going to inhabit
this extended family, since people will be
limited to an absolute maximum of two
children.
-Malinda Berry
THE MICHIGAN DAILY MAGAZINE

book4:::I
and record}
review
THE WORM RE-TURNS, edited by
James V. McConnell. Prentice-Hall,
Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1965
182 pp., $3.95.
APPROPRIATELY RELEASED on April
Fool's Day and just in time for the
lazy summer months ahead comes this
compendium of material from the Worm
Runner's Digest, which should be well
known to most Michigan students by now.
As Prof. James V. McConnell of the psy-
chology department, who 'is the chief
person to blame, says, "If you haven't
heard of this notorious, semi-scientific
journal, it's your own fault": in only five
years, this mixture of satire and serious
scientific treatises has become one of the
most widely read scientific publication.
Part of this notoriety may be directly
traced to the publicity Prof. McConnell's
efforts have gotten from the press. By
now the Worm Runner's Digest has been
mentioned in just about every magazine
of note except Playboy, although a center
foldout of a planarian might be a novel
twist; and many late-show viewers must
have watched Prof. McConnell present a
speechless Steve Allen with a Worm Run-
ners sweatshirt. But if the Digest con-
tinues to hold its own admist the ple-
thora of far more dignified scientific
journals available, it is because it serves

the necessary function of making the
too-serious researcher pause and enjoy a
chuckle at his own expense once in awhile.
Some of the needles wielded by con-
tributors to the Digest are sharper than
others, but each has its point; and this
book provides the neophyte with a good
cross-section of the sort of thing that
McConnell and his associates have been
publishing for the past five years. "The
Worm Re-Turns" contains cartoons (all
centered around the worm runners' fa-
vorite subject, Dugesia tigrina, a cross-
eyed platyhelminth of no small aesthetic
interest), poetry, quasi-serious experi-
ments (such as The Effect of a Pre-
Frontal Lobotomy on the Mounting Be-
havior of the Congolese Red-Eyed, Thy-
roidectomized Tsetse Fly, or The Effect
of Background Noise on the Detection of
Cork-Popping), 'and other buffoonery,
most of it very entertaining.
The content of the book is diversified,
and the quality of the contributions is
variable, "Body Ritual Among the Na-
cirema," by Horace Miner, is splendid
satire, already familiar to those who've
had Anthropology 453 (Primitive Re-
ligion); while diehard Freudians may get
some new insights from reading "At Last:
The Foodian Psycholysis," by W. S. Tay-
lor, and "Some Comments on an Addi-
tion to the Theory of Psychosexual De-

velopment, by Myron Braunstei:
study of the often-neglected nasal
of development).
Fortunately, for every article that
flat there are two that make it
Twente's discussion of hydroanalysi
New Tool," gets bogged down in its
puns by the end of the first parag
but Jane Clapperton's wonderful "I
Worms" (a prediction of what may
the unwary worm runner) and "Ot
Nature of Mathematical Proofs," b3
E. Cohen (containing the definitive
of the theorem that "Alexander the {
did not ' exist, and he had an in
number of limbs"), are there to sax
day.
This book belongs on the shelf of
scientist who might otherwise take
self too seriously, but I feel I must
the newcomer that the "Compulsory
face" and "Introduction" should be
first, especially to understand the h
of the cartoons (as well as an explar
of the title of the "Worm Runner
gest"). I could explain it all here,
won't; it's worth $3.95 of anyone's n
to find out for himself why this r
zine has succeeded, where many
scientific journals have not, in the
important goal: that of being
reading.
--STEVEN HALL

Can technology solve every.problem?

Page Eight

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