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March 30, 1992 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-03-30

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The Michigan Daily
Swift: on
death and
a sublime

Monday, March 30, 1992

Page 5

Sir Dan is a successful
successor to CSO's Solti

*Ever After
by Christine Slovey
British writer Graham Swift has de-
scribed his latest book, Ever After,
as, "a novel about love and death,
and there are few more important
things than those two."
There are those who believe that
literature concerning love is typi-
cally written and appreciated by
women. However, Swift responds to
this idea of a male or female type of
literature saying, "I never thought of
it that way. In Britain you have
plenty of male writers writing about
love and relationships. Perhaps, gen-
erally speaking, men tend to hide
feelings more than women. This may
be true of both the writer or the
Swift recognizes that "perhaps
there is a greater female readership
interested in love and relationships."
As the author of more than a few
books dealing with life, death, and
human relationships, he notes that
his personal experience refutes this
notion. "I get letters from all sorts of
people, male and female, young and
old. And when I give readings,
there's a fair cross-section."
Swift's writing has gained him
much critical acclaim and has been
called powerful, original, resonant
and clear. How does he feel about
his gift for storytelling?
"When I began to write, which
was some twenty years ago, I don't
think I did it out of a sense that I had
a gift as a writer," he says.
"I had to teach myself to write ...
I didn't feel like, 'Wow, I have a gift
and I must offer it to the world.'
There was a long period where I was
a sort of apprentice writer."
Still, he seems to have main-
tained a mystical relationship with
his talent. "A lot of writing is hard
work, but on the other hand, I do be-

by Roger Hsia
In its 101st season, the Chicago
Symphony Orchestra faces a pe-
riod of transition with a new music
director and conductor, Daniel
Barenboim. This may come as a
jolt to those who associate the
CSO with the majestic bravado of
Sir Georg Solti. What's a pianist
doing conducting one of the coun-
try's premier orchestras, you might
Actually, Barenboim has been
waving the baton with major or-
chestras for a while now. Having
enjoyed tenures with the English
Chamber Orchestra and L'Orche-
stre de Paris, Barenboim is not a
greenhorn to conducting by any
When a conductor replaces a
virtual legend, he will inevitably
bear the in-your-face scrutiny of a
knowledgeable audience. This will
certainly be the case when Baren-
boim takes the stage with the CSO
in an all-Richard Strauss program
Those who have come to ex-
pect the expressively energetic lea-
dership from "Sir Georg" may be
in for a pleasant surprise. As or-
chestra violinist Max Raimi as-
sures; "Although it is impossible
to expect for everyone to agree
with his style and interpretations,
the vast majority of the Orchestra

has an enormous respect for
Raimi, a 1978 University
Music School graduate, charac-
terized the most noticeable differ-
ence between Barenboim and
Solti: "Solti had an immediate ap-
peal to the lesser-informed be-
cause of his enormous energy and
intensity. Barenboim on the other
Barenboim is not a
greenhorn to
conducting by any
hand requires a greater sophistica-
tion. He gets a completely differ-
ent sound out of the Orchestra,
which is perhaps more complex
and more interested with the har-
monic layerings."
Raimi describes the transition
from the Solti's "visceral approach
to music" when he states, "As a
string player, I appreciate the inner
voice that he brings to the music.
Although I can't speak for other
sections, he seems very sensitive
to the expression of the strings."
This is not to suggest that the
highly regarded brass section
doesn't still shake the roof in the
classic CSO repertoire, the works
of Mahler and Brahms. "To ne-
glect those works, traditionally
thought of as the Orchestra's great

strengths would be like asking
Kim Basinger to wear a sack to
work," Raimi muses.
The three Strauss symphonic
poems, which comprise tonight's
program, should reflect the distinct
personality that Barenboim brings
to the music. "People tend to think
of them as light and airy. Baren-
boim, however, brings a dark side
to Strauss.
In Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's
Life), the portrayed heroism is
balanced with a dark aspect - agi-
tative and acid. Barenboim will
note the contemplative and brood-
ing aspects of the hero as well as
the triumphant side."
What might be Barenboim's
greatest strength is this very com-
plexity, which challenges and pro-
vokes. As Raimi suggests, "the
arrival of Barenboim might not
have come at a better time, with
the tremendous turnover in per-
sonnel that we have faced recently.
"Many of the new players are
really young and bring a fresh ex-
citement to everything that we do.
This situation feeds off the fact
that we are never bores with
Barenboim, who always has some-
thing for us to react intensely to."
CHESTRA plays Hill Auditorium
tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets range
from $20 to $50. Call 764-2538.

Graham Swift writes of love and death. Yet he manages to retain that non-
brooding, healthy, look-I'm-not-wearing-black glow. Congrats, Mr. Swift.

lieve in inspiration. A lot of writing
is done by instinct and intuition and
maybe that aspect of writing is a sort
of gift. Otherwise, everyone would
be a writer."
Swift has written six books in-
cluding Waterland (his most popular
book so far) and Learning to Swim, a
collection of short stories. Waterland
has been made into a film that is due
for release sometime this year. Swift
has seen parts of the film and says,
"I think it's going to be .quite im-
Today's reading will focus on
Swift's latest work Ever After. He
describes it as, "a book about many
things, certainly love and death, and
certainly faith and belief."

The novel develops very intimate
relationships between narrator and
reader. After a few chapters you be-
gin to feel that you have sat down
for a long night of witty, philosophi-
cal, highly intellectual conversation
with one of your strangest best
The narrator's philosophies about
literature and literary criticism alone
make Ever After worthwhile reading
for any burnt-out English major (or
professor, heaven forbid!). The nar-
rator explains his approach in tutor-
ing his English students.
"I have been doing little more
than urging my students to acknowl-
edge that literature is beautiful -
See SWIFT, Page 8

Singers stretched to make Seville

Dancers intimidate, enlighte

The Barber of Seville, dir. Hans Nieuwenhuis
Mendelssohn Theater
March 25, 1992
To bring the intensity of the opera to the 20th cen-
tury stage can be a difficult task. Somewhere among the
technological superstar productions of today, an 18th
,. I .
century art which combines music and voice within
drama can easily get lost.
The School of Music's production of The Barber of
Seville was exciting as well as hilarious. Internationally-
known stage director Hans Nieuwenhuis tried to con-
centrate on making the opera a complete success by ap-
pealing to the 20th century audience. "My goal is to
make it as accessible as possible to everyone," he said.
Hence the opera's hilarious anachronistic twist: it
was staged as an Italian television show set in the '50s.
Although sung entirely in Italian (with supertitles) and
in its original form, The Barber of Seville became ac-
cessible through its contemporary humor, seen in the
suave Count decked out in '50s garb.
Even without the help of a modern satire of the love
story, the energy and dynamics of the performers them-
selves were enough to unveil the opera's humor.

Although the plot itself may not have required pro-
found insight on the audience's part, the incredible dif-
ficulty of the major roles was impressive. In fact, the
roles placed so much demand on the University Pro-
ductions' singers that, in a unique interpretation, each
role was split between two performers.
Simply put, the story follows Rosina (Carrie Te-
noglia and Christina Clark), a wealthy young beauty
with whom both the Count (Robert Bracey and Mark
Beaudert) and Bartolo (Tom Scurto and Michael Shea-
ron) are in love.
Musically, Rosina is one of the toughest roles. To be
able to cover more than a single musical range in opera
is difficult enough, without having -to project it full
force in comic teasing or explosive emotion.
The role of the infamous Figaro (Garry Gable and
Jean-Ronald LaFond) similarly demanded more from
the performer to show the dynamics of Figaro's charac-
ter. His presence on stage overwhelmed even the sin-
gers with its hilarious eccentricity.
Each character helped the hysterical situation com-
edy enjoyed for centuries bring laughs to 20th century
operagoers, shaking the walls of Mendelssohn and the
associations with the term "opera:" (yawn).
-Susan Uselmann

No Sugar Added
Studio A Theater
March 26, 1992
The University's brand of modern dance has re-
treated so far into "real life" that it has become fan-
tastically, incomprehensibly surreal. Intimidating to
the layperson? Sure. Successful nevertheless? You
Three women (Janet Lilly, Rosa Huang and Susan
Roebuck Caligaris) presented their MFA Thesis
Concert, No Sugar Added, Part II on Thursday night
to a ... confused audience. Certainly we could discern
the battle for sexual dominance in Lilly's "Streets of
DanCe review
Laredo." Of course we saw the link between Lesbia
and Catullus and modern-day "dysfunctional" cou-
ples in Huang's "Mea Culpa." But I'll bet the intrica-
cies and intellectual motivations within the pieces
were lost on the majority of us.
Though most of us resisted, this concert forced us
to think in the abstract, to let the complete artfulness
of the productions wash over us, to perceive the
works and leave our analytical minds back in our
Psych lectures. The complexity of movement, bril-
liant orchestration of sets, lighting and music, and the
emotional depth of the choreographers' works, how-
ever, were not lost on those who chose to concentrate
on that aspect of the performance.
And when I talk about emotional depth, boy, do I
mean it. There was a death in almost every piece.
There was shadowy lighting, dramatically draped
costumery and socially conscious messages in several
of the dances. Huang, who combined her solo dance
and her group piece to create the huge production,
"Mea Culpa," placed flowing bodies before screens,
upon which Diane Arbus's photos of bizarre couples
and Robert Mapplethorpe's graceful bodies were pro-
jected. Between the photos were titles that spoke of
responsibility in the era of AIDS.
The juxtaposition of this story with the story of

the poet Catullus who loved the promiscuous Lesbia
was effective and powerful. The movement of events,
however, was sometimes bogged down by some
clunky dancing and composition. Dafinah Blacksher
as Lesbia stood out against the other dancers with her
graceful control and effortless lift.
Susan Roebuck Caligaris placed her real life, quite
literally, in her dance. In "Heartfire," her lower leg
was encased in a hot-pink cast due to a recent injury
and she wore pajamas and a bathrobe. Her expression
was transferred to her radiant face - which regis-
tered happiness and a pathetic longing with a blink of
the eye. Her fingers were constantly moving, and her
use of her legs from a supine position compensated
for her disability.
While the social commentary of Caligaris' hu-
man/primates in "Earth and Sky" and Huang's "Mea
Culpa," were gripping, Lilly's power came in her
ability to laugh at life, and at herself. "Streets of
Laredo," placed an identical cowboy couple who
share some hostile sexual dialogue against a conven-
tionally sexual senorita, a dashing prairieman and
two baby like settlers. Their dabblings with one an-
other's bodies (sexually and murderously) were hu-
morous but telling, like a vague and speedy moralistic
western directed by David Lynch.
Lilly's solo piece, "Glacial Milk," was one of the
more special works of the evening. It shone in its
simplicity. Lilly entered after the darkened audito-
rium was shattered by her guttural screams. Then she
launched into a sweet, graceful dance (complete with
flowing red quilted dress and pointed toes). The evo-
lution of this classicism to melodramatic crying and
self-deprecating self importance was subtle. The
piece flowed with a grace that was absent from some
of the longer, more "complex" productions.
Huang ended her program notes with a question.
"After all, when you're young, Eros is the only true
God. Or is it? ..." An appropriate end to a program
that sends messages without demanding an intellec-
tual answer.
-Elizabeth Lenhard

Say hello to
Dolly, for free
Y ee-haw! Dolly Parton's got a
new movie coming out on April 3,
but you can check it out in advance
for free! We've got 10 passes for
two to see Straight Talk, Hollywood
Pictures' latest epic romantic com-
edy, in which Parton plays a radio
call-in host who falls for reporter
James Woods. The preview screen-
ing is Thursday at 7:30 p.m., way
out at the Star John-R Theatre in
Madison Heights (but hey, it's
closer than Dollywood ...)
We've also got 10 lovely
Straight Talk posters (which feature
Ms. P. sittin' on a pumpkin), so if
you're interested in some of these
free goodies, write down the name
of any Dolly Parton song on a post-
card and send it to The Michigan
Daily, c/o Daily Arts' Date With
Dolly, 420 Maynard, Ann Arbor,
MI, 48109, or just drop it by the
Student Publications Building and
save yourself a stamp. And remem-
ber, "Dreams do come true ...

Support Campus Cinema
Labatt' s E
Pitchers only $5.00
9 pm to close
Kitchen open
till midnight

Madrid $565*
Paris $515*
Frankfurt $515*
Zurich $565*
*Fares ae roundtrip m Detrot. Tr avelust
begin by the 31 st of March. Fares do not
include taxes. Restrictions apply.
1220 S. University Avenue-STE 208
Ann Arbor MI 48104


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Ike bi howlown

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