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February 05, 1993 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-02-05

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ARTS

Prima Donna Debbie

Chamber Facades
This Sunday the Michigan Cham-
ber Players will take on an unusual
variety of works. William Walton's
"Facade" can be roughly described as
tongue-twisters spoken with a musical
accompaniment. This startlingly origi-
nal piece is completely unlike any-
thing else in allofmusic. Ralph Vaughn
Williams' hauntingly beautiful song
cycle, "On Wenlock Edge" for singer
and small ensemble will also be fea-
tured. With the English vocal music,
the group will perform Bela Bartok's
"Contrasts" for clarinet, violin and pi-
ano. Written at the requestof"the King
of Swing," Benny Goodman, this is
one of Bartok's best chamber music
compositions. The concert begins at 4
p.m. at Rackham. Admission is free.
All that brass
It's a busy weekend at the
Kerrytown Concert House.Tonight at
8 p.m. there's Saturday - the Satur-
day Brass Quintet, that is, performing
works by Gabrielli, Foster and
everyone's favorite living Estonian
composer, Arvo Part. As far as brass
quintets go, this one's among the best
for serious chamber music. Then on
Sunday at 4 p.m. Vladimir Babin and
Maria Kardas Bama will give a cello
and piano recital, with sonatas by
Debussy and Brahmson the program.
Tickets are $8, $5 for students; call
169-2999.
Classical guitars
The renowned pianist Horacio
Gutierrezwillperformarecitalofclas-
sical and romantic pieces this Satur-
day night. Liszt's powerful B minor
Piano Sonata is the primary work on
the program. Gutierrez will also play
Schumann's delightful Fantasie in C
Major and Haydn's Piano Sonata No.
50, also in C Major. The concertwill be
at, Hill Auditorium at 8 p.m; tickets
ranging from $10 to $35 are available
at the Burton Tower Box Office, with
$6 rush tickets available Saturday
morning at the Union Ticket Office.
Calt 764-2538.

by Michelle Weger
If this is February, it must be "Ballo."
About a month ago, after a morning
rehearsal, Debbie Voigt was lunching in
an Orange County hotel cafe, and reel-
ing off a list of her upcoming perfor-
mances with an ambitious gleam in her
eye: "Il Trovatore" at Opera Pacific in
January; "Un Ballo in Maschera,"open-
ing tonight in Chicago; "Ariadne auf
Naxos" at the Met in March; and her La
Scala debut in "Oberon" (which shejust
recorded with Ober-tenor Gary Lakes)
in May. Plusa few concert performances
here and there. But she's pretty sure
she'll get some time off, "sometime in
August," she said.
A Des Plaines, Illinois native, Voigt
moved with her family to Southern
California when she was fourteen. She
sang in choir in high school and took
voice lessons for fun, then entered
Chapman College with the intention of
becoming a choir director herself. After
one semester, however, she decided that
college was not the place for her right
then, so for the next two years, Voigt
worked as a computer operator, and
kept singing on the side.
She resumed her education at Cali-
forniaState University, Fullerton, study-
ing with voice teacher Jane Paul, and
began winning competitions left and
right. But it wasn't until about 1985,
when she began a two-year stint as an
Adler Fellow with San Francisco Op-
era, that she felt she could actually have
a career in music.
Those two years were crucial to her
development as an artist, she said. In
fact, it was there that she first learned the
role of Ameliain Verdi's "Ballo"-one
of seven roles she covered but never
actually performed there. She got her
early professional exposure during a
four-month tour with SFO's Western
Opera Theater, which she said she
"wouldn't necessarily want to have to
do all over again," but which was an
invaluable experience.
That experience paid off when, just
a couple of years later, San Francisco
called her in to cover for an ailing diva,

and Voigt sang Amelia with 48-hours
notice, to many rave reviews. Amelia
must have a particular spell over the 32-
year-old soprano; Voigt made her offi-
cial debut with the Metropolitan Opera
during the 1991-92 season in the same
role.
Voigt said the character appeals to
herbecause, "She's a very loyal woman,
a faithful wife who loves her husband,
but who has this attraction to another
man. She doesn't want to be attracted to
him." She paused before continuing,
'That's why she goes to the gallows
...," referring to the infamously dra-
matic (not to mention strenuous) scene
where Amelia goes in search of the herb
that will cool the chemistry between
herself and her husband's best friend.
Voigt also commented on the diffi-
culties involved in the role, particularly
in the pacing of the singing. "When she
makes her second-act entrance, there's
a huge aria, then a duet, then a big trio.
And in the production I did in San
Francisco, we went right into the third
act ... it's really a long sing," she said.
But the labor involved in her career
thus far obviously doesn't deter Voigt .
While she admitted to occasional feel-
ings of dissatisfaction "afterabadnight,"
she explained that it's, "usually just the
fatigue." What seems to fatigue her
most, in fact, is not the performing, but
the travel involved. "We sat down and
figured it out, and it was, what -," she
looked at husband John Lietch, who
answered for her, "- eight months we
spent on the road last year."
Garnering reviews like the follow-
ing from the New York Tiines' John
Rockwell must make the occupational
hazards worth it, though: "The 'Ariadne
auf Naxos' performance in Boston on
Friday night introduced one truly re-
markable singer in Deborah Voigt. That
performance, her first of Ariadne, re-
vealedone of the most important Ameri-
can singers to come along in years."
More importantly, however, Voigt has
been excited by the audiences' reac-
tions. When she performed
Chrysothemis in Strauss' "Elektra" for

instance, she expected the European
audiences to be more receptive than the
American ones, but said that at the Met,
"they just went wild."
That last comment is a telling one
about Voigt's views on the state of seri-
ous music as we approach the 21st
century. She balked at the suggestion
that the public might feel that classical
music is a thing of the past, or without a
future. Perhaps thinking of Los Ange-
les' recent ground-breaking on a new,
Disney-funded concert hall, she said, "I
don't think people really feel classical
music isdead ....There aremoreorches-
tras and opera houses and productions
going up than ever before."
Aboutoperas like Corigliano's "The
Ghosts of Versailles" and Bolcom's
"McTeague," to mention but two major
pieces premiered last year, Voigt men-
tioned the importance of new works,
but added, "I can't imagine that in our
lifetime we'll hear more of contempo-
rary composers than of Verdi, Strauss,
Mozart, or Wagner. Opera is a tradi-
tional art form and people want to hear
their favorites, the standards. Maybe a
hundred years from now, Philip Glass
will be the Mozart of our time, but right
now, we don't have the access to his
work that we do to other composers."
DEBBIE VOIGT will perform in the
Chicago Lyric Opera's production of
"UN BALLO INMASCHERA"
tonight and February 10 at 7:30 p.m.
and February 14 and 2p.m. Call
(312) 332-2244.

Mark Curry was a hit at the Blind Pig on Tuesday night.

1i k ( ij di I
Juliana Hatfield
Forever Baby single
I See You single
Mammoth Records

- I

f aith healers

Juliana Hatfield has something to
prove. Ever since the release of her solo
debut, the slam-bang power-pop funfest
Hey Babe, Hatfield has been adamant
about it not being indicative of her po-
tential. These two singles are her first
moves to prove her point. Each comes
loaded with new bonus tracks that at-
tempt to prove that point.
The "Forever Babe" single hits hard
with a faithful rendition of Dinosaur
Jr.'s "Raisans," and a brief glimpse of
rare and (almost) happy face optimism,
"Tamara."
But it's the "I See You" single that
truly delivers the goods. On "Rider,"
Hatfield lets loose with an incendiary
barrage of post-Paglia feminist rage at
women she sees as detrimental to her
team. "I see you backstage/Pulling up
your skirt/I wish it was a nightmare!
ecause it hurts" screams Hatfield over
sea of rollicking crash and burn guitars

(Camille Paglia would be well advised
to dump Madonna as her pop culture
icon and start bopping to Hatfield).
Hatfield's notorious self-directed
bashing comes back to the fore on the
two ensuing songs. "Here Comes The
Pain" is a midtempo grunger that finds
Hatfield lamenting how she "Feels like
an alien/ I am my only friend." At the
song's end, she resolves the source of
this desolation to a giddy doubletime
shuffle: "It's not enough/ Physical
touch." Moral of the story? When it
comes to what people really need, that
ain't it.
"Feed Me" is a painfully powerful
ode to committing yourself to someone
that's not really there through starva-
tion. "If you only knew/I'm down to a
hundred and two" is whispered over a
stark and mournfully gorgeous acoustic
guitar. Chilling.
Juliana H., your point has been
proven.
-Scott Sterling

The Legendary Pink
Dots-
Shadow Weaver
Caroline/Play it Again Sam
This is the fourteenth official LPby
the Holland-Based Legendary Pink
Dots. Formed in 1980, the Pink Dots
have been noted for creating ingenious
soundscapes using a tremendous amount
of instruments, both electronic and
acoustic. These soundscapes, which
range from Skinny Puppy-like insanity
to Phillip Glass new age calmness, al-
most always convey amood of despera-
tion and cynicism. Even the most
mesmerizingly beautiful pieces are
spiced up with adash of irony and anger,
even in the music itself. These
soundscapes are complemented by Ed-
ward Ka-spel's hauntingly vivid narra-
tives.
On this release, the Pink Dots are
relying more on rock instruments, and
less on synthesizers and string instru-
ments which their earlier works had
focused upon. Unfortunately, this change
weakens the power of their soundscapes,
and brings their sound disturbingly close
to Pink Floyd ("Stitching Time", "The
Key to Heaven"). The notable excep-
tion to this is the fourth track, "City of
Needles." This song's unsettling com-
bination of throbbing synthesizers and
intense drumming shows how powerful
their songs can be. Unfortunately, this
only highlights the weaknesses of the
rest of the album, and leaves the listener
wishing for so much more. However,
Ka-Spel's lyrics remain frighteningly
cynical ("Squashed in a case/where
we're all created equal/somewhere
they're laughing, they're planning the
sequel"), and are a constant bright spot
throughout the album. All in all, this is a
decent record, but it does not measure
up to the power of their previous work.
Andy Dolan

Sth

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