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January 17, 1978 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily, 1978-01-17

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The Michigan Daily-Tuesday,;January 17, 1978-Page 5

A whale of a show
By JOSEPH ROSE VEAR
JACK ARANSON gave an incredible one-man performance of Herman
Melville's Moby Dick at Ann Arbor's Lydia Mendelssohn Theater Sunday
night. Certainly he is but one person, yet he played all thirteen roles with
zestful dexterity.
Outside of being its sole actor, Jack Aranson also conceived and
managed the production. The play is taken from the text of Moby Dick, but
explains Aranson,". . . I don't like to be thought of as doing the novel. Be-
cause you can't do the novel. This is the essence and some of the highlights of
the story woven together in what I hope is a story form."
"I've always been attracted by the language of Moby Dick, "Aranson
explains, "because it's like some novels that're not right for the stage, like
Hemingway or Fitzgerald. But Melville is. The language is to be heard."
ARANSON DOES NOT act Moby Dick, he lives it. Hewas a quarter-
master in the Navy before he began his acting career, lived near the Irish.
Sea when he worked in the Irish Theater, and presently lives in California.
The sea is in him. One can hear the sea in his endearing, Irish accent and can
see the spray in his face.
The performance was outstanding. It was a historical document in its
accuracy of dialect, a marvel in its intricacy. The stage, barren but for a few
platforms, was magically traversed by a colorful procession of sixteen
scenes in two acts.
Aranson jumped off a platform and he was Ishmael. He turned around
and he was Ahab. He turned around again and he was Starbuck. Each time
his voice was different. Each time his expression, his stance, his gestures
were different. Yet; always his characters were consistant. He carried on as
thirteen different personalities for ninety minutes. It was truly awe-
inspiring.

Barb er'

styled at its best

.

By JEFFREY SELBST
IF YOU MISSED seeing the Cana-
dian Opera this time around just
because it's the Canadian Opera, you
missed a treat. At Power Center Sun-
day afternoon and evening, this ensem-
ble presented a gay, spirited, and just
beautifully performed Barber of
Seville.
I almost passed up the chance,
having seen this group's ridiculous
Boheme two years ago. Why they chose
to perform Boheme was beyond me -
to manage the size of the traveling en-
semble, they had cut the chorus alto-
gether and gave those musical lines to
the orchestra, with attendant problems
of a lack of vocal variety and interplay.
Also, the set of that most unfortunate
production was mostly composed of
slides back-projected, and the effect
was pretty silly.
In The Barber of Seville, however,
they have a near-perfect vehicle. It is
light, amusing, and the music is just
delightful. The Company now has
voices capable of giving full justice to
their roles (also unlike Boheme). The
famous aria "Largo al Factotum" (the

"Figaro, Figaro" number) was given a
stunning performance by Guillermo
Silva-Marin.
BOTH ROSINA and Count Almaviva
(Kathleen Hegierski and Abram Mor-
ales) were just as impressive. Rosina
gets to strut her stuff fairly early on as
well, in the showy "Una Voce Poco
The Barber of Seville
Power Center
Sunday, Jan. 15
Figaro ................Guillermo Silva-Marin
Count Almaviva ................ Abram Morales
Rosina ......................... Kathleen Hegierski
Bartolo ............................. Don McManus
Berta ............................. Barbara Collier
Basilio......................Janos Tessenyi
Music by Gioacchino Rossini
Libretto by Cesare Sterbini
Performed by Canadian Opera Company,
Lotfi Mansouri, General Director
Timothy Vernon, Music Director
Fa," and managed the proper girlish
tone along with a thrilling vocal display
in the cadenzi. Almaviva was a fine,
supple tenor, and he and Rosina
achieved a rare vocal balance in their

duet scenes.
Bartolo (Don McManus) displayed a
great comic sense and a good voice in
his role of the elderly swain/fool. His
number "Un dottor della mia sorte"
tripped him up a little bit. This was not
his fault - I really don't want to raise
the old question again about translated
opera, but this number really demon-'
strates the difficulties inherent. The
English words, in Boris Goldovsky's
translation (the one used), simply do
not fit well the patter effect at the end of
"Un dottor" and McManus managed as,
well as he could.
Music director Timothy Vernon did
his best to throw the actors off tempo,
and there were times when they simply
were anywhere, from one to two bars
behind the orchestra. Perhaps he had
never tried the opera at this tempo.
Certainly a work like Barber must be'
performed with alacrity. Nothing drags
more quickly than sedate parlor
comedy. Yet I think the cast had not.
been warned of his acceleratory ten-
dencies, because in the ensemble
scenes (such as the Act I finale) they

were all perfectly in time, while Vernon
would be racing on ahead.
THE SET WASvery nice and func
tional, serving both as the outside of
Bartolo's home in the first scene of Act
I and the inside throughout the rest of
the opera. The harpsichord on stage
was a particularly nice touch - as was
the harpsichord accompaniment in the
recitatives. The style was distinctly
eighteenthcentury in thedesign, and
all the touches - from costumes to
scoring to set - were appropriate.
One other point bears mentioning.
The trend in the last few years has been.
toward opera that really is acted.
Singers can no longer get away with
simply posturing and singing. It is
drama and music, and while the words
may be secondary, the dramatic action
must be plausible. In this respect, the
Canadian Opera almost approaches the
heights of the very fine Regina I saw at
the Michigan Opera Theater earlier
this year. The comic effects were per-
fect in this Barber, and the production
as a whole was a joy.

DSO lacks verve with Bertini

Jack Aranson
NEGATIVE CRITICISMS ARE FEW. The lighting was decent, com-
plete with blue lightning against a white backdrop for several scenes at sea,
and bloody red light highlighting the anguish in Ahab's face for two emotion-
packed scenes at sunset. The taped soundtrack, which made a weak and
faltering contuo for the performance, was the production's weakest point.
Still, Jack Aranson is deserving of great credit for this outstanding perfor-
mance.
As an actor/manager, Jack Aranson is a man who does everything: he
casts the play, raises the money, produces, and invariably directs it. He
manages his own group, The San Francisco Theater Company.,Says Aran-
son, "Burbage, Shakespeare, all those people who toured around in Shake-
speare's time, they're all actor/managers."
Jack Aranson's next production in the U.S. is Dear Daddy with the San
Francisco Theater Company, in which he plays the character, Bernard.
Says Aranson, "He's a very flambuoyant man with a great sense of humor
and a sardonic wit, who has fallen in worser times ..,,he gets his family.
around to help him out'and after that all hell breaks loose ...
"Dear Daddy was named show of the year in London," explains Aran-
son," "and I hope it will be show of the year here too." Dear Daddy will be
appearing first in San Francisco.
Jack Aranson's Moby Dick premiered in 1971 in San Francisco. Since
then it has been seen in Europe and over two hundred towns and colleges in
the U.S.
Here's hope that Jack Aranson and her performance of Moby Dick will
continue in this and evei greater, acclaim.

By KERRY THOMPSON
P IANO SOLOIST Bruno Gelber plays
with authority and facility, but his
Saturday night performance of Brah-
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Ford Auditorium
Saturday, January 14
Concerto No. 2 for Piano and
Orchestra, B-flat major, Op. 83............ Brahms
Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet. Op. 17 .... Berlioz
Gary Bertini, Conductor
Bruno Leonardo Gelber, Pianist
ms' Piano Concerto No. 2 with the De-
troit 'Symphony Orchestra lacked an
emotional commitment. Conductor
Gary Bertini handled the orchestra well
for the first half of the program, but lost
control in Berlioz' Romeo and Juliet.
The first movement of the Brahms
was in many ways characteristic of the
entire concerto. The hornist sounded a
bit shaky at first on his opening solo,
but he quickly settled into the music
and played very sensitively. Gelber's
initial obligatto reflected none of the
hornist's nerves - he opened with the
assurance that was to characterize his
performance. Bertini energetically
fused the orchestra and piano into a
cohesive unit that produced a convinc-
ing dialogue.
The somber Scherzo was moving, but
again lacked depth, the tragic over-
tones that can exist in a deeper inter-
pretation. There was a momentary
problem in the trio, caused by technical
problems Bertini exhibited throughout
the night. Because he tends to sub-
divide his beat too finely (here he con-
ducted the trio in 3, when it should have

been in 1), and often gives a large, un-
focused beat, there was a coordination
problem among the strings and the
horns.
THE THIRD MOVEMENT displayed
a striking characteristic of the Detroit
Symphony - beautiful string sounds.
The cello solo prominent in this move-
ment was a highlight of the evening.
The principal cellist played with a
warm, rich sound and an understanding
of the depth of feeling of Brahms'
music. This movement showed the
widest range of expression of the eve-
ning, though it seldom rises above the
mezzo-forte level. The pianissimo play-
ing was delicate and very expressive.
The quotidian fourth movement, with
its wry good humor, seems to sit a bit
askew atop the monumental stature of
the first three. Perhaps this is the rea-
son that Gelber chose the more reser-
ved approach for the first sections.
There did seem to be a bit more of an in-
ternal balance than usual as Gelber and
Bertini brought the piece energetically.
to its conclusion.
It is true that Brahms is a very intel-
lectual composer, and should be inter-
preted with the cerebral power evident
in this performance. However, Brahms
exists on many other levels, including
the passionate, and it was this that was
missing from',Bertini's and Gelber's
reading.
BERTINI'S RENDITION of Romeo
and Juliet left much to be desired, more
so than the Brahms. From the shaky
beginning - caused again by Bertini's
technical problems - the orchestra
never seemed to settle in comfortably
with this piece. Though the tempi were
fast, the music didn't flow well. The or-
chestra didn't play with facility but in-
stead, sounded forced and ungraceful,
especially with the overly stacatto style
that was affected. The brass, however,

were the real villains. They played with
a crass, ugly sound, splattering attacks
and playing with so little control that in-
tonation suffered greatly.
Throughout the piece there were
some very nice spots. However, these
were set off by bad playing and shallow-
ness of interpretation such that the
overall impression was negative. The
cello and viola playing in the Love
Scene movement was again warm,
rich, and passionate. The woodwinds
played with a clarity, sensitivity and
precision that Bertini's , somewhat
overdone gesticulations really didn'tt
deserve.
But the complaints'clamor to be rec-
ognized. The music didn't come across
to the audience, except in rare spots -
it seemed just notes. The sections did
not dovetail as they should. In at least
one place, Bertini cued a section in the
wrong spot (he was lucky they didn't
come in!) The balance between the sec-
tions of the orchestra was lacking, and
Bertini allowed some of Berlioz' more
delicately scored melodies to be cov-
ered up. The trombones were crass,
and the third and fourth horns messed
up rather badly in more than one spot.
Above all, I wish Bertini wouldn't sing

along. It can be very distracting.
When one is working with often bored
pros such as those who compose this or:
chestra, it is difficult to produce a cohei
sive, inspired (and inspiring) perform -
ance, especially with a piece as difficult
musically as the Berlioz. A conductor
needs a thorough command of the
music and the respect of the orchestra ,
judging from the response of the
Detroit Symphony members, Bertini
was unfortunately lacking in these
essentials.
PUBLISHING GROWS
IN ARGENTINA
BUENOS AIRES (AP) - With.
more than 4,000 new titles coming off
the presses this year, Argentina is
the second leading book producer in
the Spanish-speaking world, accord-
ing to a recent study of the Argentine
Ministry of the Economy.
The country is already the largest
producer in Latin America, the
ministry reports. Argentine publish-
ers exported more than 20 'million
,volumes throughout Latin America
in 1976, and were the dominant
source of new works by Latin writers
and of translated editions from
Europe and North America.
Argentina, with a population of 25
million, produces approximately the
same number of new titles per capita
as the United States, the ministry
said.

I

Bley plans
By MATTHEW KLETTER
F ROM THE MOMENT Carla Bley
walked on stage, the stage became
her domain. Dressed in high black
suede boots, black and white striped
tights and a black and white jersey,
Bley used her body rather, than her ar-
ms in conducting a stage full of con-
temporary jazz madmen. A ten-piece
orchestra accompanied Bley in what
was one of the most enlightening con-
certs of the year. The concert last Sat-
urday at Pease Auditorium was the
premiere performance of the orches-
tra's first American tour.
The music ranged from "hip" Holly-
wood sounds all the way to depersonal-
ized states of avante-garde jazz. Born
in Oakland, California, Bley has spent
the last several years in Europe, recor-
ding with such musicians as Archie.
Shepp, Pharoah Sanders and Charlie
Hayden, to Robert Wyatt and producer
Brian Eno..
The first number, "Wompy Donkey,"=
featured solos by Alto saxophonist Alan
Bruff, Tuba player Bob Stewart,. and
improvisational synthesizer wizard
Don Preston. Sounds of fusion were
brought out by the slunky guitar of
barefooted John Clark, and the dramat-
ic transitions captured an L.A., "Star-
sky and Hutch" sound.
HORNMEN JOHN CLARK, Roswell
Rudd and alto saxaphonist Alan Bruff
all displayed themselves in the early
part of the show. Early on, Bruff and
his sax created free form dance patter-
ns in the mind.
The band demonstrated their diver-
sity by playing a contemporary version
of the "Star Spangled Banner," includ-
ing a funky drum solo that featured the
drummer utilizing off-beats by stam-
nina the stna flnr .ind finallv hn-

A Dream So Real'

The final selections of the show dem-
onstrated Bley's ability to tranquilize
an audience with climactic transitions,
all of which were well-coordinated. She
finished her set with, in her words, "an
experimental piece, very avante-
garde." The band received a standing
ovation for the number, which turned
out to be "Silent Night," and returned
to repeat "Wompy Donkey," which
they felt had not been done well the first
time around. On their second time
through the number the band tran-
scended the piece to reach a euphoric
state, topping it off with a synthesizer
solo reaching an new zenith.
The Carla Bley Band finished their
evening's performance with "Dreams
So Real," a song which summed up my
feelings towards Carla Bley. Shb is an
unfortunately unrecognized and long
overdue artist of our time.

Carla Bley

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NEWS FROM THE
MAJOR EVENTS OFFICE
Welcome backto another term of FLASH,
our weekly music-news column, brought
to you every Tuesday by the folks at
theMajor Events Office.
We are proud to announce that
country superstar Willie Nelson will
appear, in concert, Sunday, February 5,
at 7;30 p.m. in Crisler Arena. Also
performing on the bill will be Ann Arbor
favorite Jerry Jeff Walker and special
guest star Katy Moffatt.
Willie, a leader of the "outlaw" cult of
country music, has pounded that long road
from two-bit songwriter to country star-
dom. And now that he's finally reached
the pinnacle of his career, no one in the
music business is surprised. For nearly
twenty years, Nelson has been turning out
hit songs that were recorded by artists
such as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin,
Linda Ronstadt, and many others. But the
phenomenal rise of Willie's popularity as a
performer and recording artist, in the
past few years, has astounded the music
world. He had to buck the Nashville estab-
lishment. His "sweatband, t-shirt, & tennis
shoes" style of performance offended
some. But the public loved him. Last sum-
mer, his Fourth of July Concert drew
780,000 fans. Ann Arbor will catch a
glimpse of this man on February 5.
Openin9 the show will be Jerry Jeff
Walker and the Lost Gonzo Band. Walker,
well-known in Ann Arbor as a rambler
and street-wise storyteller, plays a brand
of country-boogie-rock that's guaranteed
to kick you off your seat. He penned the
song, "Mr. Bojangles," that drew world-
wide acclaim.
Special guest star Katy Moffat has just
completed a tour of Europe with Leo

Look for:
IVAe rbl agzine
ON SALE NOW
in the Fishbowl
and Campus-Area Stores

AUDI TIONS
for
111O&AL

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