The Michigan Daily
Tuesday, April 4, 1989
Figaro bawdily satirical
BY JILL PISONI
M Susanna and you're a block-
head," sang the playful lover to Fi-
garo in the first few minutes of the
University School of Music Opera
Theatre's production,The Marriage of
Figaro. Also known as The Follies
of the Day, Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart's comic opera stays true to
its title, depicting the gossip, innu-
endo, and dalliance that accompany
the adventures of love.
With a long list of characters
ranging from the amorous Count
Almaviva and his jealous wife
Rosina to their lovesick servants and
plotting friends, Mozart weaves the
tales of the chased and the chasers.
He adds one complication onto an-
other with surprising twists and
revelations. Mozart's bawdy comedy
may not have been appreciated by his
aristocratic peers who felt more of a
stab to their pride than a tickle to
their funny bones in watching
Mozart satirize their lack of morals,
but the Opera Theatre's production
was nothing but hilarious.
The music, performed by the
University Symphony Orchestra un-
der the direction of Gustav Meier,
was stupendous. It complemented the
voices of those on stage to form an
incredibly sweet, almost palpable
sound. The singers achieved an in-
credible range of notes and at the
same time enunciated each vowel and
syllable with precision. The opera
was performed in English, which
made something that is usually very
foreign and exotic suddenly become
accessible. The constantly changing
alliances, the deceptions and counter-
plannings, and the characters' confu-
sion with the events of the day were
fully appreciated in translation.
The intimate size of the Lydia
Mendelssohn Theatre proved a benefit
to the audience, allowing them to see
the incredible expressiveness in the
faces of those on stage. This, along
with their graceful and realistic
movement, which came under the
stage direction of Jay Lesenger, gave
the audience something to watch in-
tently as well as listen to.
The large and diverse cast showed
the distinct personalities of the char-
acters they portrayed. With the help
of a traditional 18th century manor
house set design and elaborate cos-
tumes, wigs, and make-up, the per-
formers conveyed the materialistic
idiosyncrasies of the class and the
Marcelina (Pamalyn Lee) looks over Bartolo's (Michael Con-
stantino) shoulder in The Marriage of Figaro, an opera by Mozart
once considered scandalous.
style of the century.
The Opera Theatre chose to pre-
sent the uncut version of Mozart's
satire, which meant a very long per-
formance. Although the music was
beautiful, the acting deftly performed,
and the humor ever-present, it was
difficult to sit through the four acts
in four hours, even with two inter-
But the test of stamina was well
worth the trial. The opera was a gala
of intimate, sensual relationships. It
examined the intricacies of male and
female bondings, jealousies and de-
ceptions. Nowhere else could one
find incredible music, a complex
storyline and such a successful satiric
glimpse of human behavior.
'Words by Women/for Women' shows
there's no definite 'female voice' in poetry
BY MARIE WESAW
IT would simplify things in the the cosmic universe if one could put a
finger on "the female voice" in poetry in order to illustrate the differences
between men and women poets. Yet the poetry reading benefit tonight for
the Women's Crisis Center is bound to prove that there is no such
limiting female voice in contemporary poetry.
"Words by Women/for Women," created by Vince Kueter, organizer of
the monthly Ann Arbor Poetry Slam, will feature about 17 women poets
from different Midwestern areas. La Loca, a Los Angeles-based poet, will
also be part of the benefit.
What sets the benefit apart from traditional poetry readings is the as-
pect of "performing" that many of the poets will bring to the reading.
"Part of performance poetry means that I don't read off the paper;" com-
ments Chicago poet and participant Cindy Salach, a regular in the Green
Mill poetry slams. "It means that the poetry is performed from an actual
character. It is not a poet reading a poem. It is more a monologue."
Salach usually performs her poetry with the poetry dance band The
Loufah, which she calls "poetry to dance by." Ann Arbor poet Denise
Shawl also performs with a musical group, Celeste Oatmeal. Such a per-
formance is part of Shawl's defintion of poetry as "how to use words for a
While many of the featured poets are considered "performance poets,"
Kueter notes that there are some differences in the styles of the different,
geographical areas.These differences can be seen by comparing the read,
ings of the Chicago and the Detroit poets. Further comparison can be
made between the style of these two groups and the reading of La Loca,
who is internationally acclaimed for her reading and was featured in the.
1988 Olympic Poetry Festival in Calgary.
While the peformance style can allow for an easy-going attitude, some
of the subject matter of the reading will be serious. Alice Fulton, a Uni-"
versity professor and writer of the poetry collections Dance Script with
Electric Ballerina and Palladium intends to keep the Women's Crisis
Center in focus by reading "Fictions of the Feminine; Quasi-Carnal
Creatures from the Cloud Decks of Venus."
Fulton's poem derived from a conversation when a friend commented'
that a specific rape had been "a crime of anger." "I wanted to show that
rape was a crime of anger. That it wasn't about sexuality at all," com..
ments Fulton. The result was the poem which takes place in a strip joint
and takes the voice of the patron, the stripper, and the owner and focuses
on the power existing in the relationships between the three.
Fulton, who does often focus on relationships in her poetry and ac
knowledges that many other women poets do also, does not see this char-
acteristic as the mark of a set woman's poetry. Instead, she acknowledges
that the possible differences between what men and women write about'
come from their "different cultural experiences." She points out that "if
men and women were raised alike... some of the poetics would change."
While "Words by Women/for Women" won't define a specifi;.
"women's poetry," its collection of artists will demonstrate what Salach,
believes comes through in poetry by women: "Women are proud of being
women, proud of their sexuality.... They're a very strong voice in the-
WORDS BY WOMENIFOR WOMEN will take place tonight at 7:30
p.m. at the Heidelberg, 215 North Main. A $10 donation suggested to
benefit the Women's Crisis Center.
RC Players' farces not without humor
BY BETH COLQUITT
RC Players' productions are always unusual -
in fact, they're usually downright odd when
compared with Musket/UAC's and the University
Players' performances. Sometimes this is a good
thing, sometimes it is not. In the case of Friday
night's two farces, Mother and the Criminals and
Daphne, we had both.
Both plays were written by 1988 Hopwood
award winners Lisa A. Wing and Louis Char-
bonneau. Wing, author of Daphne, is also the
winner of the Kasdan Scholarship for Creative
In the case of Daphne, these awards were well-
deserved. While this play may never win Tony
awards on Broadway, it was a very amusing
comedy. The slapstick was wonderful, and I
haven't seen such a good round of mistaken
identity farce in a long time.
There were weak spots in the acting in
Daphne. Both Daphne (Navera Durrani) and her
slimy ex-boyfriend Joe (Rob Mintz) were weak
in portraying a believable (or "deep") character.
They lacked conviction and determination, some-
thing that should have been present in both char-
acters from the lines that they were speaking.
Although generally wimpy, Gary (Garth Skov-
gard), the put-upon new roommate, was almost a
All the real humor in the play really began
when Lilly (Jen Weaver) walked onstage. Lilly, a
confused punk who was only in Daphne's apart-
ment because two people independently hired her
to burglarize it for them, provided the show with
dozens of slapstick/mistaken identity shots,
which had the audience in hysterics. Weaver did a
wonderful job as a clueless girl in an apartment
full of people who were all, in her eyes, slightly
Charbonneau's Mother and the Criminals, on
the other hand, was saved by no such humor. It
was in the same form as other RC Players pro-
ductions, which have a tendency to manipulate
good drama in order to get in cheap political
shots. Last semester's Tartuffe was peppered
with these - for example the concluding shot
about President Quayle (originally Louis XIV)
being the all-knowing ruler who pardons Orgon.
As for Mother and the Criminals, it totally
lacked substance. I suspect that the idea stemmed
from a critique of the "police brutality" idea that
has been pervading the campus this year. Detec-
tive O'Tool, although delightfully overplayed by
Marc Maier, was a character who sprang from
nowhere in the context of the play. Without
him, the play would have completely lacked hu-
mor, but if a bland character had been substituted
for his religiously fanatic character, the play
would have made just as much sense. Charbon-
neau got off a few needles about religious fanati-
cism and its relation to the law, but the play had
no other support of this criticism.
In general, both plays lacked depth, although
Daphne made up for this lack with laughs.
DAPHNE and MOTHER AND THE CRIMI-
NALS will continue playing this Thursday, Fri-
day, and Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Residential
College Auditorium. Tickets are $3.
Read Jim Poniewozik Every
The Peron Novel
by Tomas Elroy Martinez
Pantheon (1988) $19.95/hardcover
Tomas Elroy Martinez' The
Peron Novel uses Peron and his re-
lationship with Argentina to
masterfully debunk the myths pre-
cluding a precise analysis of either.
Fiction, once again, proves "truer"
than history, largely because Mar-
tinez is far more suspicious of his-
tory - and the lies it conceals -
than is the historian. His Peron, who
emerges through a fantastic amalga-
mation of diary entries and newspa-
per clippings, of interior mono-
logues and improbable flashbacks, is
the wily Peron who, as Martinez
phrases it, "always maintained two
attitudes, two or more plans, two or
more theoretical lines with respect to
the Church, the army, oil, land re-
form, urban guerrillas, freedom of
Martinez knows his subject well,
having interviewed him on several
occasions in the late '60s. The di-
aries and journals and interviews and
newspapers interspersed in his book
with Peron's monologues are all
genuine, all "historical." And
invariably contradictory - a conse-
quence, Martinez suggests, of
Peron's quixotic effort to evade his-
tory by confusing it. Or, as his
Peron ruminates, "if there are other
truths, it doesn't matter anymore.
What I am telling is what will go
down in History as truth."
Or will it? Martinez' novel re-
volves around the dramatic day of
June 20, 1973, when Peron made his
return to Buenos Aires. He is 78,
and has less than a year to live. His
mental facilities are going, and he is
suffering from a series of increas-
ingly serious ailments. His wife, Is-
abel - destined within the year to
become the first female president in
all the Americas - and his spiritual
advisor Lopez-Rega, Isabel's confi-
dante, are increasingly telling him
what to think and how to think it.
Martinez' Peron is a parody of his
former charismatic self, an old man
Open Dance Classes
The University of Michigan
Turkish Students Association is proud to present:
TURKISH CULTURAL SERIES
Turkish Poetry through the Ages
From the 6th century to Present
Turkish political, heroic, lyric, erotic, mystical, and romantic
poetry including the poetry of Sultans, Mehmet the Conqueror,
and Suleyman the Magnificent.
Wednesday, April 5, 1989, 8:00 p.m., Rackham West Conference
Anatolian Mysticism: Rapture and Revolution
(Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes, Yunus Emre, Bektashis, and other
The philosophy, poetry, and rituals of Anatolian Sufism.
Documentary film: Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes
Produced by Marc Mopty
Winner of "The Best Short Documentary Film of Europe Award,"
Performance of Ney-a Turkish woodwind instrument
Thursday, April 6, 1989,8:00 p.m., Rackham Amphitheater, Free
in heroic raiments. Such a figure
will, at best, have a difficult tim
keeping the historical lions beyond
the gates of his imperial mythology:
As the novel progresses and the
political pressures mount, Peron is
increasingly unable to handle thy
challenge. Martinez delves into
Peron's less-than-glorious past;
frustrating the old man's efforts to
recreate his origins. Memories of
Evita recall his consistent failure,
with women - and the terror they;
have inspired. Radio reports fro6;
Buenos Aires underscore Peron'
fading grip on a more exuberant, ex-
plicitly populist youth - Argen?
tines who take seriously words that
Peron had erstwhile tossed out in an
effort to co-opt yet another segment
of the country's political forces. And
at the end of the day - and the
novel - we watch the people in a
Buenos Aires barrio awakening to.
the realization that Lopez Rega is;
"herding" their beloved general,
whispering the words that Peron,
tired and wan, mouths in his fiist
speech to the people he had once en-
And, paradoxically enough, con-
tinues to enthrall at novel's close. 4
For the chief enigma surrounding
Peron - and Argentina - is the
persistence of "the myth" despite the
numerous sordid realities that have
arisen to gainsay it. Peron the Novel
brilliantly captures a sense of how
Peronism carries this off, although
Martinez, centered as his work is on
the man and his legend, cannot an-
swer the much more pressing ques-
tion of why. Answering that4
Jazz by women
for everyone -
for free, no less
The Women in Jazz series
sponsored by Eclipse Jazz fo-
cuses on an often overlooked
segment of jazz - women artists.
The four-part program begins
tonight with Bess Bonnier, an
Beginners and Intermediates