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January 09, 1989 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-01-09

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Monday, January 9, 1989


Page 8


Superlative soprano
Opera fans will join Battle tonight

Charles Babbitt (Tom Cruise) is united with the brother he never knew (Dustin Hoffman) in
.Parry Levinson's Rain Man.
Ioffman returns to
stardom in Rain Man

IMAGINE the lights slowly dim-
ming in Hill Auditorium. Silence
prevails except for the sound of a few
rustling programs. Suddenly, two
figures appear on stage and begin to
captivate the audience, bringing to
life the beautiful music of Handel,
Schubert, Strauss, and Faure. This
The public will catch a
glimpse of Miss Battle's
international reputation as
one of the most important
interpreters of lieder and
the art song.
will be the setting of the Auditorium
this evening as the University is
graced with the presence of soprano
Kathleen Battle, whose mellifluous
voice and musical talent has enrap-
tured admirers throughout the world.
Battle demonstrates her versatility
and charm as she performs regularly
on stages of the world's major opera
houses such as the Metropolitan,
Paris, Vienna, and London's Covent
Garden. However, her appearances are
not simply limited to the opera
world. And this evening, on the
recital stage, the public will catch a
glimpse of Miss Battle's interna-
tional reputation as one of the most
important interpreters of lieder and
the art song.
There is yet another facet to
Kathleen Battle's accomplishments.
We all know that many professional
musicians enhance their reputations
in the recording studio. Battle's skill
has won her two 1988 Grammy
Awards - one as Best Classical Vo-
cal Soloist for Kathleen Battle
Salzburg Recital and another for

After seeing Dustin Hoffman's
performance in Midnight Cowboy
several years ago, I thought that he
was a truly gifted actor capable of
some memorable award-winning
portrayals. He has, in fact, emerged
as a sort of limited character actor
who hasn't really been in the big
stardom category since Tootsie in
1982. Well, without a doubt, Dustin
Hoffman has retured to number one

with his latest picture, Rain Man,
arguably his greatest performance
yet. Even if all else in this film
failed, it would at least be graced by
the gem of his presence.
Rain Man doesn't fail though -
far from it. It has a fresh and
compelling story courtesy of writer-
director Barry Levinson (Diner, Good
Morning Vietnam). The story pairs
two brothers together on a journey
toward their understanding of each
other and of themselves. Raymond

Babbitt (Hoffman) is a high-
functioning autistic savant, a rare
disorder in which one has amazing
memory and mental skills while
suffering from a communication
disability. He has just inherited $3
million from his father, but he
doesn't understand money or its
function in this world. His life has
been a sheltered series of routines
and television schedules in an Ohio
See Rain Man, Page 9


Battle's versatility
have netted her two

and talent for musical inter-
Grammy wards and international

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Best Opera Recording in Ariadne Auf
Naxos, both under the label of
Deutsche Grammophon.
Furthermore, the audience will see
pianist Martin Katz, Professor of
Accompanying and Chamber Music
at the University's School of Music,
playing for Battle in tonight's recital.
He has partnered some of the world's
greatest soloists in recitals around the
The public may also take advan-
tage of a free, special Pre-Concert
presentation held immediately before

the concert. Richard Le Sueur, presi-
dent of a consulting service for
singers and accompanists, will share
his knowledge, discussing "The Sdng
Recital: A Musical Society Tradi-
tion" in Rackham Auditorium at 7
KATHLEEN BATTLE will perform
tonight at 8 p.m.Tickets are available
for this evening's concert in the Mu-
sical Society's Burton Tower office
for $22, $17, and $10. For more in-
formation contact the office between
9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 764-2538.




Two heads better *

The union of David Mamet and Shel Silverstein on
the screenplay of Things Change is a curious one.
Mamet (House of Games), with the stilted dialogue,
cynical eye and cold heart, merges with the sympathetic
tongue and get-happy mentality of Silverstein (author
of The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends).
The ensuing result is a sweet, compassionate story oc-
casionally laced with untrue moments and jarring
deviations from character.
Gino (Don Ameche, Cocoon) is an Italian immi-
grant from the Old World. Now 80 and content shining
shoes in Chicago, he is given an offer by the local
mob he can't refuse: take the fall for a murder and
spend three years in jail, and they will grant him his
lifelong dream of a fishing boat. Before turning himself
in, however, Gino is placed in the trust of Jerry (Joe
Mantegna, a favorite player of Mamet's (House of
Games)), a con man working for the mob who is "on
probation" because he can't follow orders.
The higher-ups figure Jerry can handle babysitting
an 80-year-old man in a hotel room for three days until
Gino's arraignment. But Jerry's boredom and his sym-
pathy toward Gino's fate propels him to take the old
man on one last fling to Lake Tahoe for a couple of
days of fun in the sun. The story revolves around

Jerry's increasing love for the old man and a re-evalua-
tion of his own priorities.
Change is at its best when it is less of a buddy-
buddy picture (Silverstein's inclination) and more a
study of human nature and behavior (an approach one
would expect would derive from Mamet.) The trans-
formation of Mantegna's character from self-centered to
altruistic comes off as strained and creates some awk-
ward moments, as his very life depends on seeing Gino
safely to jail.
And as much a mesmerizing presence as Mantegna
is, Ameche dominates every scene he is in. His syrupy
but consistent Italian accent is countered with a boyish,
wide-eyed honesty. His new twist on the old fable of
"The Ant and the Grasshopper" ("...and at the end of
the summer, the grasshopper ate the ant.") reveals an
iron fist underneath his velvet glove. Ameche is a
Mamet and Silverstein's screenplay is ultimately a
success. To be sure, their synthesis isn't seamless, but
the predominant themes each bring to the project -
Mamet, that of the value of honor and the necessity of
trust, Silverstein, of second chances and renewed hope
- all point to the sacred bonds of friendship and love.
Change is an original story, a modest triumph for the
powers of collaboration.
THINGS CHANGE is showing at Showcase Cinemas.


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