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November 01, 1977 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily, 1977-11-01

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rmen inconsistent

The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, November 1, 1977--Page 5
Leading lady chats

By JEFFREY SELBST

Carmen
Music Hall
Detroit, Michigan
Don Jone......... ................John West
Escamillo. .............Ronald Holgate
Zuniga.... ... ... .... .......... Matteo de Monti
Morales ...... ...............Bruce Hall
Carmen ................................ Brenda Boozer
Micaela .. ...................... Carmen Balthrop
Frasquita..................... Glenda Kirkland
Mercedes ........................ Elsie Inselman
Dancairo .............................. Leon Petrus
Remendado .. ........................... Ian Lyons
Lillas Pastia...... ................. John Urbinati
Music by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Meilhac and Halevy.
Translation by Mark D. Flint
A production of Michigan Opera Theater
The Michigan Opera Theater has made great strides
in the last decade, coming up from an amateur group per-
forming in area high schools to a professional, slick com-
pany which has drawn rave notices from the New York
Times, Opera News, and other such respected publica-
tions. Last month they revived - brilliantly - Marc Blitz-
stein's seldom-performed jewel, Regina, and spirits were
running high.
It is awfully difficult to follow that act, and it seems as
through the company really didn't try all that hard.
Friday night saw the opening of that beloved chestnut,
Carmen, in what is essentially a good/bad production. It is
good when the principals sing (Carmen, Don Jose, Micae-
la, Escamillo) and very bad when the chorus opens its
collective mouth.
I felt the direction was poor. Dominic Missimi, stage
director, made clumsy cuts in Acts III and IV to keep the
running time down, and whose almost surrealistic staging
of some scenes, such as the end of Act I, made me feel I
was viewing comic opera. That business of having the of-
ficer rip off Jose's epaulets was pretty silly - and that
wasn't all.
The chorus - particularly the male chorus - was
weak, and out of sync with the orchestra most of the time.
The female chorus was somewhat better, though notice-
ably muddled in the "Au secours!" fight scene in Act II.

Yet earlier, in "La fumme" they were quite co-ordinated,
and very fine.
That seemed to be the way in the whole production:
when they were good, they were very, very good, but when
they were bad, they were - oh, dear - frequent.
Micaela (Carmen Balthrop) was wonder'ul. I can say
no more: during Act III, in her famous aria, some inebri-
ated gentleman to the left of me jumped out of his seat and
hollered "Bravo!" or somesuch; he sat back in a moment,
red-faced. But the point is well-taken. Carmen (Brenda
Boozer) was a treat - sensual, provocative, and per-
fect. Escamillo was weak at the beginning, but picked up
quite a bit in Acts III and IV.
Don Jose is another story. First, the good news: his
voice is a majestic instrument, and he used it with power
and scope. He sang beautifully. He looks like a lout. Ron
Jose is a romantic lead, and ought to behave like one. I
refer not so much to his physical demeanor as his acting.
There was a kind of stupid contentment on his face when
the officer asked him about Micaela in Act I - I felt like
offering him a bone, really - and throughout the rest of
the opera he staggered about like one drunk. His acting in
IV was particularly inane.
The entire production was not without its beautiful
moments, however. Frasquita (Glenda Kirkland) and
Mercedes (Elsie Inselman) were just fine in Act III. They
continued minorly to ensemble scenes; perhaps the high-
light of the entire night was the quintet with Carmen,
Doncairo (Leon Petrus) and Remendalo (Ian Lyons) }n
Act II. The two women also performed with spirit but
restraint in the "Melons, coupons" scene in Act III.
In fact, the show was characterized by a schizoid
element. When the professionals, without hindrance from
the amateurs, performed, it was terrific.
A word about scenic designs: it was slick. Costumes,
sets, lights, were of the best quality.
I think, as a whole, the flaws in the show had to do with
the casting (Don Jose) and direction, which I feel was
badly misunderstood. The effect the show had was to
produce alternate states of excitement and boredom.
There were moments I couldn't abide, but at other times
the show produced euphoria. And, of course, the central
problem is this: what can you do after you have just done
Regina?

By CINDY RHODES
and DAVID VICTOR
"Theatre is alive" is Hope Alex-
ander-Willis' motto, and she believes in
it fully. She appeared as the sole female
actress in the Professional Theatre
Program's production of Shakespeare's
People this weekend at the Power Cen-
ter, the performed with her exuberant
belief. She was with the American Con-
servatory Theatre of San Francisco for
two years, and brings to her present
role an experience of a variety of
Shakespearian roles.
Talking of the show, Alexander-Willis
said that she was drawn to it because of
the presence of Sir Michael Redgrave.
"It is an extraordinary experience to be
able to work with someone of that
magic." She sees flexibility in the for-
mat of the play, for in the interpreta-
tions of the roles "there is always some-
thing you want to change." She said
that she would personally like to change
some of the scenes in Shakespeare's
People, perhaps replacing one of the
young love scenes in the first quarter,
Spring, with a scene from The Taming
Of The Shrew. "I'm too old to play

Viola. Sir Michael says I butch up the
role."
Her favorite role in Shakespeare's
People is the scene she does with Sir
Michael, "Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
Before and After the Murder." Alexan-
der-Willis sees Lady Macbeth as "the
archetypal image of a strong image,"
and thus she is so often uncomprehend-
ed and misinterpreted.
Having started her career at age 15,
Alexander-Willis is well acquainted
with her art. Concerning her goals in
acting, she says, "I just want to learn
as much as I can about this amazing art
form of which I am a part." Not wishing
to limit herself, the 30-year-old actress
will star in Robert Klaus' soon-to-be
released film The Pack, and hopes to do
more filmwork. She also looks forward
to working as a director and owning her
own repertory theatre company.
"Celsius" is named for Anders
Celsius, a Swedish astronomer who
died in 1744 and who invented a ther-
mometer scale based on zero degrees
for the freezing point of water and 100
for the boiling point.

Soloist

Guest soloist Theodore Lettvin plays at
a rehersal for last night's Halloween
concert by the University Symphony
Orchestra.

i

r

DSCO Superb

I

U ensembleexcellent

1

By CINDY RHODES
and DAVID VICTOR
Last Saturday evening marked the
first performance this year of the De-
troit Symphony Chamber Orchestra,
under the baton of guest-conductor
Neville Marriner. The evening's pro-
graim was a delightful blend of various
themes and moods, which the chamber
orchestra was able to handle quite pro-
ficiently. The efforts of the orchestra as
a whole made for a delightful perform-
ance.
Detroit Symphony Chamber Orchestra
Ford Auditorium
October 29, 1977
Neville Marriner, Conductor
Tchaikovsky ................. Serenade for Strings,
C major, Opus 48
elsen ........Concerto for Flute and Orchestra
Bach.......Brandenburg Concerto No.A6
B-flat major
Mozart........ Symphony No 35, D major, K. 385
("Haffner")
Serenade For Strings by Tchaikovsky
foreshadowed the programs diversity.
The piece's numerous phases, served
as a showcase for both the guest-con-
ductor Neville Marriner, and the or-
chestra as a whole. The broad over-
stated opening lines of the low strings
were followed by a delightfully spright
recovery with a perfect balance
throughout. In the second movement,
Marriner adapted his peculiar circular
style to marking downbeats with
strokes reaching nearly to the floor re-
sulting in a lively waltz.
In the next movement, the Elegy, a
weaving of three separate statements
into a unified tapestry of music pro-
vided a superb showcase for the smooth
blending and balance of strings. Simul-
taneously resonant and melancholy, the
strings and Tchaikovsky were at their
best. The serenade's last movement, a
finale based on a Russian folk theme,
provided a fine transformation from
the sad mood of the Elegy.
Concerto for Flute and Orchestra by
Carl Nielsen was brilliantly executed
by the DSO's principal flutist, Ervin
Monroe, in only two movements.

Moving from an Allegro moderato to an
Allegretto, it is a quick-paced adven-
ture in a Scandanavian mode. In his
Cadenze, Monroe displayed a technical
virtuosity, aptly light with well-placed
tension on each note.
After intermission, the concert re-
sumed with Bach's Brandenburg Con-
certo No. . Much more stately than the
whirling forcefulness of the Nielson
concerto, this last of the Brandenburg
concertos was tenderly executed by
soloists Nathan Gordon and David
Ireland on viola, Italo Babini on cello,
and Robert Gladstone on bass. The in-
tricate solo cello line of the second
movement, brilliantly 'carried out by
Babini, rose against the violas without
overpowering them or falling into ob-'
scurity below them. The balance of the
piece as a whole' once again demon-
strated the flawless quality the DSO
maintained throughout the evening.
As could be expected from
Marriner's expertise in Mozart, the
final piece of the evening, the "Haff-
ner" Symphony, saw the guest conduc-
tor at his best. After perfect executions
of the Allegro con spirito and Andante
movements, the orchestra reared into a
brilliant execution of the Menuetto
marked by exacting dynamic contrasts
in the strings. Maintaining the high
degree of quality, Marriner led the or-
chestra into the piece's final move-
ment. The movement plunged directly
into a racing outburst then, falling into
a quiet, sensitive statement, builds in a
series of crescendo passages to a new
repetition of the theme on different
dynamic plateaus. Showing a brilliant
understanding of Mozart, the concert
concluded with this stirring perform-
ance.
This was one of the finest DSO con-
certs that we have seen. The four selec-
tions complimented each other well and
provided a unified program. The Cham-
ber Orchestra's performance was ex-
cellent, and we only hope that their
other two performances this year will
be of the same quality.

By JEFFREY QUICK
Saturday night's Contemporary Di-
rections concert at Rackham was a
comfort and joy to those of us prone to
pessimism about the current state of
music. Four works written within the
last ten years were expertly performed
by the University's Contemporary Di-
rections Ensemble, a pool of student
chamber musicians.
The concert opened with the Brass
Quintet, a jazz-influenced essay on how
to write idiomatically for brass, as well-
crafted as one would expect from a
former Hindemith disciple. The per-
formers, fully up to the work's de-
mands, balanced nicely, and tossed off
notes with consumnate ease.
Yehudi Wyner's De Nova, a more in-
trospective work, is scored for flute
bass clarinet, 2 violas, cello and bass.
After a somber opening for the two
lower strings, the work centers on the
cello's lyric quality to the extent of he-.
coming a quasi-concerto, one befitting
cellist Karen Kadervak's expressive
playing. A later section of fast bow-
tapping strings was disturbing, as if the
composer was trying to hide. that he
was writing a basically late-19th cen-
tury piece in contemporary language.
University professor William Al-
bright's Doo-Dah scored for three alto
saxophones is.a stylistic mixture. Ele-
ments of swing band and be-bop writing
are contrasted with classical
techniques such as the opening soft
imitative passage and the now-obliga-
tory multiphonics. The serious sections

were not always interesting enough to
match the jazz "punch-lines." Albright
has done better work.
The second half of the concert was
devoted to Tom Johnson's Four-note
Opera, a work which is based on only
four notes. Minimalism is a style which
seems totally antithecal to opera. How-
ever this delightful spoof of opera and
its performers was not only a theatrical
but a musical triumph. Johnson creates
an incredible diversity of style within
his limitation. There are arias reminis-
cent of musical comedy, Stravinskian
choruses, Italianate ensembles, and
parodies of Baroque recitative. The
plotless libretto, however, is of greatest
interest. The baritone is a sober narra-
tor, the alto hides behind her fan, the
soprano is a prima donna, and the
tenor is a victim of both composer and
cast, somewhat like P.D.Q. Bach's Don
Octave. He is given only one aria to
sing, in which he complains that he
can't show off his high C because it is
not one of the four notes in the opera.
Knifed by the baritone, virtually silent
in the quartet, he kills himself in the
penultimate scene with a hangman's
noose tied to nothing, while the other
three commit suicide by more efficient
methods. The opera ends with the
singers standing over each other com-
menting on how boring the last scene is.
The cast, pianist, and stage direction
were all excellent. Special mention
should be made of David Parks, tenor,
for his tear-jerking aria, and Lauren
Wagner, soprano, for her splendid catti-
ness and fine singing.

ELS JAYS GIFTS
Going Out of Business Sale!
50% OFF ALL GIFT ITEMS!
Everything goes, even the fixtures, showcases, jewelry cases,
glass shelving, and brackets.
Gift shop located at Ann Arbor Inn, corner of South 4th
and Huron
7:30 a.m.-10p.m. Weekdays and Sat., 9-S Sun.
CALL 663-7155
HOW CAN YOU LAUGH AT A TIME LIKE THIS?
CANTERBURY HOUSE foolishly announces:
A Night of Clowning Around
with David Fly, Priest and Master Clown
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 2nd--8:00 p.m.
at CANTERBURY HOUSE
(Catherine and N. Division Sts.)
ALSO, coming up right after exams I
Fools-And-Clowns-Workshop-Weekend-Retreat
5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4th through 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6th at Emrich
Conference Center, Brighton, Michigan
Cost: $20 per person Transportation will be arranged
MAKE PLANS NOW BY CALLING Canterbury House
665-0606
for more information and to register
.,

R 11

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
office of
MAJOR
EVENTS, presents

win", fire

Sat. Nov. 5
Criser Arena 8 pm
Reserved Seats $8.50 $7.00

Deniece Williams Tickets available at the Michigan Union Box
Pockets Office in Ann Arbor, Huckleberry Party Store in
Ypsilanti and all Hudsons.

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Sun. Nov. 6
Hill Auditorium 8 pm
Reserved Seats $7.50$6.50 $5.50

Tickets available at the Michigan Union Box
Office in Ann Arbor, and Huckleberry Party
Store in Ypsilanti.
L ida Fri. Nov. 11
ft Criser Arena 8 pm
Reserved Seats $8.50
Tickets are available at the Michigan Union Box
Office in Ann Arbor, Huckleberry Party Store in
Ypsilanti and all Hudsons.
Fri. Nov. 18
Hill Aud. 8 pm
ReservedSeats $6 $5 $4
Tickets available at the Michigan Union Box
Office in Ann Arbor, Huckleberry Party Store in
Ypsilanti and all Hudsons.
Sat. Nov. 19
Criser Arena 8 pm
Reserved Seats $7.50 $.50

O

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