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January 23, 1980 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-23

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The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, January 23, 1980-Page 5,

'Opera' stuck in


Don't let anyone tell you that it's im-
possible to attempt too much. Richard
*nings obviously did and his produc-
n Space Opera 1 demonstrates pretty
clearly just what can happen when one
overextends oneself. Jennings should
have been more than satisfied with the
excellent'visual and musical impact of
"Space Opera 1". Instead, he also at-
tempts to weave a sort of zen Star Trek
theme into this show which falls far
short of its commanding audio-visual
effects and, unfairly, calls the value of
4 he entire piece into question.
hat is not to say that Space Opera 1 is
devoid of all merit. Jennings is ob-
viously an individual on considerable
achievement and talent. His abilities as
a musical composer are particularly
noteworthy. The extended introductory
pieces facilely combine a dramatic
synthesizer theme a la Tangerine
Dream with a sort of loose Philip Glass-

style sax-flute duet. His background
as an electronic music teacher at
Michigan State has obviously taught
him how to produce driving synthesizer
pieces without falling into inhuman
mechanicalism. The only musical weak
point comes when Jennings first ap-
pears wearing awhite jumpsuit and ab-



stracted alien make-up to sing a forced,
corny folk song about our brothers in
space. .His enthusiasm and charisma
does not blend with the somber tone of
the rest of the production.
JENNINGS' VOCAL abilities do more
than their share of saxing many of the

musical numbers. He has a strong, ver-
satile baritone that never falls short of
winning the audience's complete atten-
tion. The "opera" part of the title is also
no misnomer; many of the pieces come
closest to being arias, which Jennings
pulls off with ease and confidence. It is
too bad, that unlike in most opera, we
are able to understand most of the wor-
ds of these songs. In a majority of the
songs, some of the phrasing is just
clumsy enough to make the words un-
duly noticable.
However, it is also true that it would
be difficult to imagine any way that
lines such as "Let us think of ourselves
as a life-form/ travelling through time
and space" could be worked into any
managable tune without being con-
spicuous. Perhaps it would be better if
most of the words had just been left out.
That is a sad thing to say, but it would
sufficiently- alleviate the major
problem of this presentation-its con-
tent. The plot synopsis, which sounds
like a pretty lame version of, "Alan
Watts meets Captain Kirk," talks about
travelling through time and space to
view the alternative futures of the
human race-total annhilation or
oneness with out inner being and
whatever other "cosmic friends" are
out there. The fact that just about
everybody else you can imagine has
already dealt with this theme was
brought home by the fact that the slides
Jennings used during the section por-
traying the end of the world were taken
from the inside cover of David Bowie's
Diamond Dogs. Left a bit more abstract
and. understated, this common sci-fi
theme might not have been so an-
noying, but as obvious and
unavoidable as it is, t colors the entire
production for the worse. Before long,
one gets the feeling that their nose is
being rubbed in It.

Join the arts page
Have you ever attended a concert, play, or film only to awaken the
following morning to read a review that seemed to be written by someone
who went to a different show of the same name? If you've ever said "I could
do that!" after disagreeing with an arts page review, it's time to put your
typewriter where your mouth is.
The Michigan Daily is looking for new staff writers. The only prerequisites
are a specific interest in writing and a generalinterest in the arts (use your
own definition). Beside the usual popular music-theater-film criticism, we
have an urgent need for writers interested in classical music, the visual arts,
and arts-oriented features. The bottom line here is creativity; if you have
some insight or a new approach to offer, the arts page could be your outlet.
The meeting is next Sunday at upstairs at the Student Publications
Building at 420 Maynard at 3:00 p.m. Please bring a sample of your writing,
preferably representative of what you'd like to cover. If you can't make the
meeting, stop by any weekday afternoon and ask for the arts editors.

Your apartment
cra mped?
Read the
Daily Classifieds
for the latest 'For Rent' info.

THAT REALLY IS unfortunate,
though, most of the music is quite in-
triguing. Even the visuals, though they
more often succumb to the plot, are oc-
casionally brilliant. At one point, Jen-
nings confronts a box which we take to
be some sort of center of knowledge. Lit
with blacklight, the spare lines of his
facial make-up float free above his
brightly glowing gloved hands at they
manipulate a touch-controlled syn-
thesizer on top of the box. As his hands
sweep ever closer to the surface and
flutter randomly like twin butterflies,
the synthesizer lets off complicated
squeals, bleeps, and buzzes like an ex-
tremely talkative R2D2. On the other
hand, using a strobe light and
exaggerated struggling and grotesque
as almost anything in Alien.
Obviously, Richard Jennings' talents
as a stage persona, singer, visual artist,
and musical composer make any of his
productions worth seeing. Perhaps his
predilection for confusing these talents
will disappear with experience. In any

case, Jennings is certainly working in a
difficult medium between mediums, Bowling Tournament
and while he shows considerable
promise, he just as obviously needs For Women
time to perfect his personal craft. If Sat. Jan. 26
you're interested in seeing him develop
his talents and display his already con- 10 a.m.
siderable abilities, he will be giving one aI
last performance of Space Opera i at at U
the Dance Theatre Studio at 711 North Winners go to
University this Saturday, January 26.
Kent Mtate Univ.
Joncord String Qurtet


SundayJanuary 27830
Rackham Auditorium
This exceptional ensemble, in addition to works by Mozart
and Beethoven will perform the world premiere of George
Rochberg's "String Quartet #7 (with baritone), with
Leslie Guinn, of the School of Music, to which the
work is dedicated.
Tickets available: $4, 5.50, 7
Tickets at Burton Tower, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48109
Weekdays-9-4:30, Sat. 9-12, Phone 665-3717
Tickets also available at Rackham Auditorium 1'/ hours
before performance time.

AP Photo
The "Crowned Head of an Oni" is one of many pieces of sculpture currently
on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts in an exhibition entitled "Treasures
of \ncient Nigeria". This piece is by Igbo-Ukwo who lived around the loth
century. This and the rest of the travelling show tare rare examples of that
period in African art. Few examples of sub-saharan art have been preserved
more than 100 years.

inl its 101 sf , cason

We can't afford
to wasteit.

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