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October 02, 1977 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-10-02

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'Regina'

a

The Michigan Daily-Sunday, October 2, 1977-Page 5
triumph!

By JEFFREY SELBST
An evening of modern opera, defined
as anything written in the last forty
years, usually proves an edifying ex-
perience. And as such, that is usually
the attitude a reviewer takes when pre-
paring to endure such an undertaking.
It is, in fact, with just such a frame of
mind that I contemplated viewing Re-
gina, the Michigan Opera Theater's fir-
st offering of the season.
It had all the ingredients of disaster,
too. Consider: it is based on a heavy
tragedy by Lillian Hellman, frequently
excuse enough for the modern com-
poser to drag out all the twelve-tone'and
largely horrifying machinery; it has
been shelved for the last twenty-four
years - and was not much of a success
at its Broadway premiere in 1949. Ran
56 performances, to be exact. Revived
unsuccessfully by the New York City
Opera in 1953, and has lain dormant
since. It is enough to bring shudders of
distaste up one's spine already.
So I am pleased to announce that the
new production of this nearly-flawless
piece is an unmitigated, unquestion-
able, and unadulterated howling suc-
cess.

I cannot imagine a more perfect
piece, not a more perfect welding of
story to music. Not that the kudos go
solely to the composer/lyricist - the
,MOT, which has come a long way since
its inception a few years back as a tour-
ing amateur group, put on a lavish and
superb production.
REGINA
Music Hall
Detroit, Mich.
An opera in three acts, by Marc Blitzstein.
Based on The Little Foxes, by Lillian Hellman.
Addie....................... .....Doris J.:Berry
Cal............................Conwell Carrington
Alexandra Giddens.................Sarah Rice
Regina Giddens .............Joan Diener-Marre
Oscar Hubbard .......Wayne Turnage
Leo Hubbard .................... Joseph Kolinski
Wmn. Marshall...... ....Edward Kingins
Benjamin Hubbard............Ronald Holgate
Horace Giddens ..............George Gaynes
ands.................. Bruce Feldstein
John Bagtry ............. ....... Terry Shea
Produced by Michigan Opera Theater.
Where shall I start? The sets?
Breathtaking; the entire production is
one of the visually most stunning I have
ever seen. The lighting was used to
maximum effect in each scene, large
splotches of color moving in areas of
the stage to highlight the brisk move-
ment of the action, or suggest the emo-

tional tone of the moment, always com-
plementing the color and (artistry in-
volved in the set and costumes. A beau-
tiful synthesis of production values all
the way around.
Regina is the story of Regina Gid-
dens, a grasping, loveless woman of
about forty, her mousy daughter Alex-
andra, her revolting money-hungry
brothers Ben and Oscar, Oscar's sleazy
son Leo and weak-willed tippling wife
Birdie, and Regina's husband Horace, a
dying near-invalid.
Regina and her brothers are back-
biting creatures who are involved in fi-
nancial scheming, each trying to cut
the others out of most of the action.
Regina- bargains with her husband's
money, assuming that he would go
along. When he discovers his impend-
ing mortality, however, he refuses his
cash and leaves her out on something of
a limb.
It's all too complex, really - the only
salient aspect are the relationships be-
tween Horace and his daughter Alexan-
dra, with his wife Regina, and those of
Regina with her brothers.
In each case, Hellman/Blitzstein
bring the audience to several abrupt
turns of feeling about each character.
Regina is first seen to be pitied, then as
her chicanery is uncovered, to be des-
pised; finally, as she loses all in the,
end, including her daughter, she
becomes once again pitiable. The same
sorts of turns are wrought with the
other characters. Birdie, for example,
is cruelly abused by her husband Oscar
- we are encouraged to sympathize
with her at first; later, she reveals that
she has allowed things to go out of con-
trol in her own life, and is thus re-
sponsible -she warns Alexandra not to
love her lest she imitate her; her self-
loathing is extraordinary and terribly
sad.
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Joan Diener-Marre, who as simply
Joan Diener scored a Broadway suc-
cess in the original Man of La Mancha
(as Dulcinea) scores an equal one in
Regina. Her Regina is by turns sym-
pathetic, human, witty, and the quintes-
sence of evil; finally, an empty husk.
Diener-Marre's performance is near-
perfect - the only objection I had is in
some of her odd enunciations. I suspect
she is attempting to sing a Southern ac-
cent (it all takes place in the South) but
it comes out rather like Finnish. Nit-
picking.
Barbara Hocher gives a wilting, win-
some, and lovely performance as the
abused Birdie. It is with this character
that the audience is most encouraged to
empathize, and Hocher understands
this without becoming outrageous
about it. It is a tasteful, understated,
and beautifully-sung enactment.
Benjamin Hubbard (Ronald Holgate,
whose credits include the Broadway
See REGINA, Page 7
IMOGEN
CUNNINGHA M
75 YEARS AS A
PHOTOGRAPH ER
October 4-28
Reception:
October 13,4-6
Hours:
Tues-Fri,10-6
Weekends, 12-5
764-3234
with the support of the
Michigan Council for the Arts

Fiddler, singer shine

Rollins rolls 'em out

By PAUL SHAPIRO
Sonny Rollins is still a wonder on the
tenor saxophone. Since his emergence
onto the jazz scene in the late 1940's:
there has been no one who has played
with greater fluidity, texture and lyri-
cal beauty. His recordings with Max
Roach, Thelonious Monk, Clifford
Brown, and John Coltrane in the 1950's
are truly lengendary. Friday night at
the Michigan Union Ballroom, Rollins
demonstrated his masterful technique
alongside a group of younger musicians
who were not quite as supportive and
communicative as players in Rollins il-
lustrious past.
Throughout the concert Rollins was
commanding, barreling up and down
the registers of his tenor saxophone.
with speed and clarity that evoked the
greatness of his 30 odd years in jazz.
Although a few of his compositions
were somewhat oriented toward to-
day's more commercial jazz, his play-
ing always retained a quality of inven-
tiveness and a solid craftmanship. Un-
fortunately his band (Aural Ray guitar,
Eddie Moore drums, Don Patte bass,
and Armen Donelian piano) did not.
- Undoubtedly they are all competent,
highly skilled musicians, and their solo
work reflected their particular talents.
At the same time their work was

generally uninventive and their playing
lacked interaction'with each other and
with Rollins. For much of the concert I
found myself waiting for Rollins' next
solo.
The compositions often strengthened
towards their completion, as Rollins'
driving, powerful solos returned to the
quintet. As always Rollins' Latin-based
pieces were energizing and enthralling.
There were times however when the
quintet was in full swing. The final se-
lections were especially good, with Ed-
die Moore and Don Patte providing
strong rhythmic work.
The focus of the show ultimately was
Rollins playing; he left no doubt that he
is a jazz master. Rollins has been se-.
lected as best tenor saxophonist in the
Down Beat critics poll eleven times. He
has played his music around the world,
won a Guggenheim fellowship for com-
position, and is simply idolized by seri-
ous jazz listeners. I talked to him be-
tween shows Friday night, and started
off ty asking him how he feels about
music today as compared to the spirit1
of the fourties and fifties.
"It was different before - everyone
was really dedicated and serious about
their music. That was the main thing.
The business was not as prosperous at
that time. Of course I grew up in the so-
called bop era, right? So that has a cer-
tain attachment because I was in a cer-
tain period of my life, my twenties I
guess, in fact I made my first record in
1948 when I was 18. I'd just gotten out of
high school, well I grew up listening to
that and as you look back on a period in
your life you think 'oh this was beau-
tiful,' but maybe it wasn't so beautiful
at the time. Who knows?"
Rollins made it very clear that the
culture and time period he's living in
affects his music, at the same time ex-
pressing that a great deal must come
from within.
"I think the music I play is partly
myself and partly myself as I rub up
against other people. I'm not playing in
a vacuum. But at the same time it's
always been a struggle and a dedication
See ROLLINS, Page 7

By WENDY GOODMAN
and MIKE TAYLOR
A wee bit of Ireland visited the Ark
coffee house Friday night. In a superb
performance, Eugene O'Donnell and
Mick Moloney painted images on the
minds of the audience.
All of the singing was done by Molo-
ney, who also plays guitar, mandolin,
and tenor banjo. The words rang loud
and clear as he sang, his voice strong
and convincing. He used his voice,
sometimes without instrumentation, to
portray many parts of Ireland - Ire-
land in rebellion, Ireland in love, Ire-
land in disappointment, and Ireland in
pride.
O'Donnell played his fiddle with pre-
,ision, grace, and skill. If at first it
seemed Moloney was the star and
O'Donnell simply background, that
idea was tossed aside by the third song,
when the fiddle took the lead and the
guitar merely filled the gaps. When
Moloney was singing, O'Donnell would
use his fiddle to enrich the vocals and
help convey the essence of the song. On
the instrumental arrangements, the
fiddle would be used to its fullest, soun-
ding varyingly like a troop of marchers,
an unhappy maiden, or a lively dancer.
The two musicians have so many dif-

ferences it's remarkable that they can
perform so well together. White-haired,
clean-shaven O'Donnell dresses in
business suits complete with pocket
hanky, and comes from Derry in nor-
thern Ireland. Blue-jean clad Moloney
has a full beard and hails from the
south of Ireland. In Ireland, musical
styles, as well as dialects, greatly vary
from north to south. They overcome
these barriers to compliment each oth-
er magnificently.
The instrumental interplay between
Moloney and O'Donnell is so good that
you're tempted to sit back, close your
eyes, and bask in the music, but then
you miss watching their fast-moving
fingers. Moloney's playing was by no
means masterful, but the combination
of his distinctive voice and O'Donnell's
powerful fiddling made the show.
Most of the numbers were either slow
ballads or danceable jigs and reels. The
ballads generally featured Moloney's
guitar and voice in the lead, with
O'Donnell's fiddle filling the
background melodramatically. Every
now and then, the pair would do "a
couple of jigs" or. "a couple of reels."
Tapping your feet just wasn't enough
during these bouncy instrumentals;
everybody seemed to be dancing in
See FIDDLER; Page 7

- mmmmmmmmmmmm m m====== amm mm m
UAC SOPH SHOW 1977 announces I
AUDITIONS'
FOR THE MUSICAL
I ASAPPLAUSE
MASSMEETING FOR ALL PERFORMERS
I AND CREWS (technical, publicity, financial,
i costume): I
* SUNDAY, OCT. 9-7:00 p.m.
', The Kuenzel Room in the Michigan Union.
AUDITIONS Oct. 10, 11
m (for further information call 763- 1101)
5=m mm mm m - mm m mm mmm mm

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