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November 18, 1991 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-11-18

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Monday, November 18, 1991

Page 5

--w

Weekend in review
Albert Herring's a
cold fish; 'sticks ain't
*SO EMFRti,
"O sofantastic, EV
rocked u nbel ievabl e

Albert Herring
Power Center
November 14, 1991

Jennifer took communion, but
she had an affair. Amelia exposed
her ankles, so she too was dismissed
as a candidate for May Queen. And
Edith, though she attends Bible
group, fooled around with the
postman. There was only one choice
left for Queen of the May, and that
was Albert Herring.
So unfolds the plot of the
Benjamin Britten opera, Albert
Herring, which was performed at
the Power Center this weekend by
the University School of Music. The
premise of taking a mama's boy and
getting him drunk during his coro-
nation ceremony was promising, but
predictable. Technically, everything
was in place, but there was a spark
that was missing from the perfor-
mance which kept it from becoming
a mirthful opera.
Opera is known for its simple
plots and almost cartoon-like char-
acters, which counteract the prob-
iem of lyrics that audiences can't
understand (e.g. "Ahl-beart's rahl
Guht stuff.") Albert Herring fol-
lows that treatise, with the stereo-
typical domineering mother and the
do-gooder son. However, in this
staging, the characters never
achieved the maximum potential of
caricature. For example, Albert's
mother (Angela Zerban), suppos-
edly a domineering woman, came
across as a weak and miserly shrew,
interested only in the money that
Albert (Mark Beudert) would win
as May King. Lady Billows (Jen-
nifer Fitch) used facial expressions
to show her range of emotions
(consisting of rage or displeasure)
I& but never quite crossed the line into
Most Feared Citizen.
Broad comedy was used in place
of inspired staging, with pratfalls
and buffoonery abounding. The
shakingly nervous knees of prim
schoolteacher Miss Wordsworth
(Naomi Gurt) and the romping of

lovestruck son Matt (Bob Kleber)
or the production staff of his own
play? Soph Show's awkward presen-
tation of The Fantasticks this
weekend often muddled the play's
simple messages.
The story, a variation on the
myth of Pyramus and Thisbe (or
Romeo and Juliet, Tony and Maria,
take your pick) is a classic. Luisa is
separated from Matt, whom she
loves passionately. Stephanie Fybel
as Luisa did everything passionately
- a perfect portrayal of silly,
teenage flamboyance. Unbenownst
to the young hero and heroine (no
gender inclusive language can de-
scribe this wonderful and thor-
oughly non-PC musical), their par-
ents have plotted a marriage that
will end an old feud between the
two families.
The four parents (Kathleen
Denton, Sascha Connor, Catherine

Yasar and co. bring
us a Turkish delight
by Liz Patton
W hat would you do if, when people heard where you were from, they
took a step back? This has happened to engineering graduate student
Tayfun Akin, who is from Turkey. "When I learned how people here see
Turkey, I was shocked," he says. "That's not my Turkey. Everyone has seen
the movie Midnight Express, and that's all they know of Turkey."
The Turkish Students' Association would like to change this aura of
ignorance and fear that seems to surround their country by showing
facets of Turkish life other than the cruel and corrupt prison system
portrayed to devastating effect in Express.
Sponsored by the Association, Necdet Yasar and his ensemble are
coming to Rackham tonight for a concert of Sufi and Ottoman court
music. The first of these two musical traditions is Sufism, a Muslim
mystical movement stressing personal communication with God.
Ceremonial music and dance, particularly among the Mevlevi order of
whirling dervishes, play an important role as aids towards gaining a
higher spiritual consciousness.
The second musical tradition at the concert is the art music that was
developed for centuries in the Ottoman courts at Istanbul. Patronized by
sultans, visiers and other nobles of the Ottoman court, who were
sometimes themselves composers, court music flourished from the 15th
to the 20th century.
The exotic sound of this music is due in part to the different instru-
ments, but can also be attributed to the basis of Turkish music, the
"makam." The term is usually translated as mode, although it refers to
more than a scale. A makam consists also of certain compositional rules,
such as contour of melodic flow, range and prominent notes within the
scale. It is important enough that compositions are classified by their
makam. Some are similar to western scales, though the microtonal
intervals can lend a dissonant feel to the music.
Yasar is a master of the tanbur, a long-necked string instrument. He is
an expert at a form of improvisation known as taksim, which not only
demonstrates the performer's virtuosity, but also serves to introduce the
makamn of the following piece. Yasar is founder and director of the
Istanbul State Turkish Music Ensemble. He has toured East Asia, Europe
and North America as an informal cultural ambassador for Turkey, twice
holding a resident artist position at the University of Washington. The

James Atkin, lead vocalist of EMF, shows off his modified Medusa hair-

do. Or is it an overgrown spider?
glow offstage - worked well.
Generally though., the lighting hid
the character who should have had
spotlights and called attention to

The theatricality of The Fantasticks was
properly addressed with a stark black set, a
black-clad narrator and a mime.... With only a
platform, a black trunk for a few props and
some wonderful character actors to fill the
stage, why did the performance seem
cluttered?

Pozniak and Carpenter, in endearing
performances) began a great musical
relationship with "Never Say
'No,"' a song which showed that the
only way to ensure that a boy and a
girl will fall in love is to keep them
away from each other.
To further incite their children's
Arthurian fantasies, the parents
staged a rape by narrator/bandit El
Gallo (a dignified Mason Haber).
Luisa was rescued by Matt, and the
feud was ended. Complications
arose, however, when Matt and
Luisa, together at last, got sick of
each other, and Matt went off to ex-
plore the evil world.
The theatricality of The Fan-
tasticks was properly addressed
with a stark black set, a black-clad
narrator and a mime who portrayed
a barricade between the two silly,
romantic teenagers. With only a
platform, a black trunk for a few
props and some wonderful character
actors to fill the stage, why did the
performance seem cluttered?
The orchestra (who performed
wonderfully, especially the harpist,
Kimberly Rowe, who musically
echoed the characters actions) was
placed upstage left, practically in
the wings. The band's distracting
presence on stage, muddling any in-
stance in which a spotlight was used
to block out everything on stage,
seemed to have neither rhyme nor
reason.
The lighting in this production
could have been its own character, as
melodramatic as Matt and Luisa
themselves. Henry (David Mulder
in a hilariously understated perfor-
mance), the old actor hired to abduct
Luisa, misquoted Shakespeare and
bellowed for some light. As he fud-
dIed through Julius Caeser, he was
captured in a dramatic spotlight and
all else (save the orchestra and their
little lamps) disappeared. At other
times, the characters posed on the
platform would be bathed in light,
while a singing El Gallo would be
hidden in a dusky, halfway point.
Certain effects, such as the omi-
nous amber atmosphere during
Matt's and El Gallo's expressive
duct, "I Can See It," and Matt's de-
scent into "the world" - a red

actors who were motionless, or
worse, sitting upstage, waiting for
their entrances.
The four parents harmonized
their quartets beautifully, and the
soulful love ducts between Luisa
and Matt were a redeeming presen-
tation of the wonderful lyrics and
melodies that have made The Fan-
tasticks a long-running hit. The
actors overcame much of the clumsy
staging with their consistent energy
and feeling, as well as some ex-
tremely strong singing.
Kleber displayed Matt's youth-
ful egoism to a tee, especially in his
campy duct with Fybel, "Me-
taphor." The innocent, just-ripened
romantic chemistry between Fybel
and Kleber made the show. Haber's
opening and closing number, "Try
to Remember," expressed well the
bittersweet message in Luisa's and
Matt's successful romance. Beyond
any staging mishaps, the timeless
story and the musical talents of
Fybel, Kleber and Haber kept The
Fantasticks afloat.
-Elizabeth Lenhard
EMF/ Carter USM
Hill Auditorium
November 16, 1991
Every concert should end this
way.
On demand, the members of
EMF did a second encore, perform-
ing their damned best song, "EMF."
After Carter's resident fatman/
introducer, Jon Beast, began to dance
his blob of a stomach around, more
and more of EMF's fans hopped on
stage to join him. Some attacked the
band, while others were content just
to jump around. By the end of the
song, the band members were barely
discernable, but the song was, sur-
prisingly, and well done at that.
Getting to this climax, though,
was sometimes a rocky road.
Opening band Carter, while en-
tertaining in its reprise of many
songs from 30 Something, as well as
the perfect "Sheriff Fatman," was
too exact. Two men playing guitars
to backing tapes looked so easy -
you and your youngest sibling could
do this with about two months of

guitar lessons, six months of hang-
ing around a studio and a month of
practice together. Admittedly, it
would be hard to be as good as
Carter is at putting the tapes to-
gether, but it's somehow cheating to
play to them. Tapes make so little
demand on your creative talent -
except when creating them in the
studlio, listening for the perfect
samples.
To make up for the lack of
members and spontinacity, Carter
visually stimulated the audience
with an overwrought, blinding
light show, so you could see what
exactly was happenning on the stage
for small amounts of time. The
band's set was fun, but in a how-can-
the-audience-be-sucked-in-by-this
kind of way.
Headliner EMF began its set in a
mixed quality fashion. The first
songs performed from the band's LP
Schubert Dip sounded unlively and
were poorly executed. "Unbelie-
vable," especially, was rendered
unenthusiastically. The fact that it
was stuck early in EMF's set proved
that the band members wanted to
distance themselves from their
summer hit. But the couple of new
songs sprinkled in the first half of
EMF's inspired
rendition of 'Lies' led
into great reworkings
of songs that sound
ridiculous on
Schubert Dip
the concert were uniformly excel-
lent, and jammed with vigor.
But something clicked in the sec-
ond half. The band's inspired rendi-
tion of "Lies" led into great re-
workings of songs that sound ridi-
culous on Schubert Dip. "Children"
and "Long Summer Days," most
notably, were extraordinary. The
cover of Cream's "Strange Brew"
also sounded better at Hill than it
does as the live B-side of "Lies."
While Derry Brownson, the
"sample" player, continually
proved to be an annoyance because of
his obvious lack of contributions to
the band - save to pathetically
imitate lain Baker of Jesus Jones -
the rest of EMF played hard to the
screaming legions that, at the end,
emptied the first six rows and
danced on stage. Impressive.
-Annette Petruso
Attention
Economics
Students
Just in time for final exams - the
essential Economics study guides
The Micro and Macro
Economics Study Posters
- all the traditional topics, models, terms,
graphs, and tricks of Introductory
Economics captured on two 3 foot by 2
foot posters
- on durable 70 lb. paper
- not 300 pages to review, not 200, just

Members of the Necdet Yasar Ensemble, during their 1989 Ann Arbor
visit. The New York Times has described the group's performance as
"astonishing but gentle virtuosity." Wow!
group's current tour includes universities all over the US. and Canada.
When the Turkish Students' Association heard of the tour, they called
the group and asked if they would stop in Ann Arbor. The quartet agreed
to change their plans to include Ann Arbor.
The Turkish Students' Association has been quite active in bringing
cultural events to the University campus in recent years, including
concerts, films and plays. "We want to introduce people to our culture,"
says Akin. Current plans include a photography exhibit, more films, a
Western classical guitar recital and a visit by the State Folk Dance
Ensemble of Istanbul. Their activities are not exclusively highbrow or
proselytizing, however. "Sometimes we just get together and eat a lot of
bakhlava," laughs Atik.
"The president of this University has been sponsoring diversity. I see
our activities under the same umbrella, promoting awareness of Turkish
culture as part of that diversity," says Engin Atik, president of the
Association. "There are lots of different cultures in this University. We
want also to be known as a part of this," said Akin. The Ottoman Empire
was itself multicultural. "We don't have a homogeneous single
culture," says Atik. "Turkey is a synthesis. Current culture is inherited
from past civilizations."
TIlE NECDET YASAR ENSEMBLE performs tonight at 8 p.m. in
Rackham Auditorium. $3 students, $10 general admission.

inch
schoolchildren Emmie (Christina
Hornbach), Cissie (Christine Clark)
and Harry (George Cederquist) pro-
vided internal rhythm and move-
ment to the scenes, but no external
staging was used to keep the plot
moving along. Though the scenery
(Peter Beudert designed the sets)
was appropriately dimensional for a
small town, often only the apron of
the stage was used.
To be fair, one of the most im-
portant facets of an opera is the vo-
cal quality, and Albert Herring did
present nice, harmonious singing.
The best musical moments occurred
when the performers were singing
the same verse in harmony, such as
that by Sid (Jean-Ronald LaFond)
and Nancy (Alberta Jean Reed).
Benjamin Britten was no Mozart,
and the Power Center is no Met; the
ensemble had two strikes against
them from the start, and did what
they could around that.
-niane Friodpn

CHANNEL Z
So you went deer hunting over
the weekend and weren't able to sat-
isfy your bloodlust? Then check out
tonight's episode of Northern
Exposure (10 p.m., CBS), in which
that lovable city slicker, Doctor
Joel, goes pheasant huntin'.

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