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November 20, 1987 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-11-20

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TnRTS
The Michigan Daily Fridoy, November 20, 1987

Page

' La

Rondine':

Of

love

and

By David Hoegberg
Three performances remain in the
* University of Michigan School of
Music Opera Theatre's fall presenta-
tion of Puccini's seldom heard La
Rondine ("The Swallow"). The
opera is sung in English by graduate
and undergraduate voice students at
the University and is accompanied
by the University Symphony Or-
chestra under Gustav Meier.
La Rondine is a bittersweet ro-
mance set in 1870s Paris. Magda is
I the mistress of a wealthy banker
who falls in love with a young man
of good family. Torn between her
love for the young man and her de-
sire to keep her past hidden, she
sadly turns down his offer of mar-
riage and returns to the banker. As
the swallow flies to the sea and back
each year, Magda follows her pas-
sions but is drawn back by her past.
"The opera is a little too light for
political statements," says the,
show's director, Jay Lesenger. "But
it is about a woman who makes an
attempt to free herself and can't, so
she goes back to the only life where

she'll be accepted."
After its 1917 premier in Monte
Carlo, La Rondine remained
strangely earthbound. Puccini had
been commissioned in 1914 to write
a light operetta in the "Viennese
style" by the directors of the Vienna
Karl theatre. But soon after, Italy
declared war on Austria and the opera
hung in a limbo created by interna-
tional conflict. Its popularity has
soared since 1984, however, when
the New York City Opera staged a
lavish revival, including a national
telecast, to rave reviews. The fresh
young voices of the Opera Theatre
promise to bring new vitality to this
long-neglected masterpiece.
La Rondine falls between L a
Fanciulla del West and Il Trittico
in Puccini's musical development.
This was an adventurous period for
the already famous composer. Puc-
cini made it a point to be aware of
what was going on around him and
to respond to it. By 1914 he was
well aware of Wagner's achievement.
Musical impressionism a la Debussy
and Ravel also had animpact on his
later operas. Most important of all,
perhaps, was Richard Strauss, who

strife
had already written Salome, Electra,
and Der Rosenkavalier by 1914. "La
Rondine contains a quotation from
Salome, a sort of private musical
joke," says Lesenger. It also con-
tains much of the bittersweet regret
and Viennese charm of D e r
Rosenkavalier.
"Each of the three acts offers
something different," says Lesenger.
"The first act is very conversational,
not your typical operatic fare of one
aria after another. The second act is
in the operetta style --lots of danc-
ing and chorus work, and a gorgeous
quartet, one of the best things Puc-
cini wrote. The third act brings us
back to the Puccini we recognize
from his earlier operas: soaring
melodies charged with emotional in-
tensity. The final duet is just
shattering emotionally."
This production marks the local
debut of Peter Beudert, recently ap-
pointed Assistant Professor of Set
Design at the University, and the
Opera Theatre appears to have spared
nothing for 'the occasion. "The
physical production - sets, cos-
tumes, lighting - is really quite
See 'LA RONDINE' Page 9

Gregory Broughton as Ruggero, Beth Veltman as Magda, Monica Donakowski as Lisette, and Robert
Breault as Prunier in the Opera Theatre production of Puccini's 'La Rondine' at the Power Center
this weekend.

Crossland returns for local gig

St. Andrewvs 3{uii[
1 Mock West of Ureektow n
Dlowntown fletroiA

By Mark Swartz
After an absence of more than
six months, folksinger Dave
Crossland is returning to the good
old Ark in good old Ann Arbor.
When this alumnus of the Univer-
sity Class of 1987 plays Sunday
night with guitarist Preston Reed,
his small but loyal local following
is sure to be on hand.
Crossland finished his last year
at the University with a victory in
the campus-wide Starbound talent
search, a (premature?) farewell gig
at the Ark, and the release of his.
debut LP, Don't KnoW Where I m
Goin'. The record sold briskly at
first, but lately it has been, "Inch
by inch, row by row," as the artist
concedes. When asked about the
possibility of it going gold, h e
deadpans, "Only if we spraypaint
it."
The album, available at PJ's
Records and at the club Sunday, is a
fully accomplished piece of work. It
features ten mature and subtly
emotional originals. Accompanied
by family and friends, Crossland
gives an appreciably low-tech, but
very professional performance.

Sunday's show is sure to feature
material from this impressive debut
LP.
Since his move to M a s -
sachusetts, where he works at a
school for dyslexic children, Cross-
land has been working on still more
originals. "I've been writing a lot
about where I am, about places. I'm
trying to get people to look at their
world a little differently," he says.
Crossland plays in the stripped-
down guitar and harp style of
Woody Guthrie, making full use of
a rich (ex-Glee Club) voice and
charismatic between-song banter to
draw in the audience. It is a musical
form that he says is "in danger of
dying away." Even in Boston, a
folk music hub for years, clubs are
closing down. But he keeps on do-
ing his thing in the face of it all.
The comparison to Guthrie is
not incidental; the late music pio-
neer was the subject of Crossland's
honors thesis last year. "Learning
about Woody Guthrie was an
adventure," he explains. "After
writing the paper, I feel closer to a
tradition."
Research into Guthrie's life also
revealed that Crossland's "Old hero"

was not the perfect man. "He had a
kind of Mr. T. attitude about mu-
sic," he admits. "He put a bumper
sticker on his guitar that said 'This
machine kills fascists,' and that's
not what I'm about." Crossland
prefers the motto emblazoned on
the guitar of Guthrie's comrade,
Pete Seeger, which reads, "This
machine surrounds hate and forces it
to surrender."
Dave Crossland affirms, "There's
something in the music that allows
you to reach other people."
Warming up for Crossland is
Flying Fish recording artist, Pre-
ston Reed. Reed is a skilled
jazz/folk guitarist, who plays intri-
cate all-instrumental. music on his

six and 12-string guitars.
DAVE CROSSLAND and
PRESTON REED will play the
Ark Sunday night at 8 p.m. Tickets
are $6.50, $5.50 for members and
students.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21

11:30 p.m.

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