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May 07, 1957 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1957-05-07

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S 'U' Music School Offers Opera Course

In an age of the specialist many
students come to college expecting
intensive vocational training, even
if their intended career is grand
At the University such special-
ized practical training is possible
in a music school course called
Opera 153. A course of this type
Is not available on many campus-
es; in fact, it begen here only five
4 years ago.
Until 1952 opera at Michigan
was a joint activity of the speech
department of .the literary school
and the vocal and orchestra de-
partments of the music school, but
with little real guidance or pur-
University officials realized the
ineffectiveness of such a program
and called in a specialist, Prof.
Josef Blatt, who instituted to-
day's 'active' program of operas
and opera scenes.
Heads Opera Course
Prof. Blatt, who heads the
course in Opera as well as con-
ducting the University orchestra,
shad had an extensive career in
music prior to coming here, with
experience both in this country
and in Europe. He has been large-
ly responsible for making Opera
153 the outstanding course it is,
according to many authorities.
Born in Vienna in 1906, he be-
gan playing the piano at the age
of three, (an approved Viennese
custom since the days of Mozart.)
At 13 years old he was composing
and conducting, by 19 years old,
holding his first official position
as conductor.
After seven years as an opera
conductor in various cities of Aus-
tria and Czechoslovakia and two
years as director of the opera
school of the Vienna Conservatory
of Music, Prof. Blatt came to Am-
erica. Two years later he was
guest conductor of the New York
Philharmonic Symphony.
Conducts Symphony
Prof. Blatt became conductor,
,_ of the Arkansas State Symphony
in 1948, and two years later be-
came assistant conductor of the
Metropolitan Opera C o m p a n y.
From this position he came to the
University, in the summer of 1952.
Utilizing his past experience,
Prof. Blatt instituted the opera
class, in his words "an intensive,
practical course for opera per-
formers." The atmosphere is en-
tirely professional; all members
must audition first.
According to the time schedule,
Opera 153 must be elected-concur-
rently with Speech 140, a literary
school course.
There is actually only one class,
composed of 16 upper classmen
and graduate students. The
speech and opera classes meet to-
gether, with Prof. Blatt in charge
of musical coaching, and Prof.
Hugh Z. Norton of the speech de-
partment responsible for the act-
The opera class, also in ac-
L NoticesJ
The Episcopal Student Foundation,
student faculty tea, Canterbury House,
May 7, 4:00-6:00 p.m., 218 N. Division.
The Episcopal Student
Foundation, breakfast, Canterbury
House following the 7:00 celebration of
Holy Communion at the Church, May
7, 7:00 a.m., 218 N. Division.
The Culture Club, lecture, Prof. Bla-
lock, "The Sociological Problems and
Tools of Integration," May 8, 8:00 p.m.,
3rd Floor Conference Room, Michigan
Physics Club, meeting: speaker, Dr.
Franken, "Some Optical Pumping Ef-
fects," May 8, 7:30 p.m., 2038 Randall.
Industrial Relations Club, meeting,
presents Chrysler's Fred Lutz, person-
nel manager, Trenton Plant, speaking
on "Underlying Problems of Industrial

Relations," May 8, 7:30 p.m., 141 Busi-
ness Administration Building.
Michigan Square Dancers, a program
of square and couple dancing, May 7,
7:00-10:00 p.m., Lane Hall.
Political Issues Club, lectures, Prof.
Koenig and Brendan Sexton, Educa-
tional Director of UAW-CIO, speaking
on "What Should be Labor's Share,"
f May 7, 7:30 p.m., Michigan League.

SCENES FROM OPERA-James Miller, Grad., as Faust, and June
Law, as Margherite sing leading roles in one of three selections
from famous operas to be performed Tuesday and Wednesday,

8-:30 p.m., Aud. A, Angell Hall.
cordance with the time schedule,
meets from 10-12 a.m., Monday
through Saturday. Actually, ac-
cording to Prof. Blatt, it meets
when and where it is necessary for
whatever activity is being per-
formed at the time. For example,
an entire opera is produced two
or three times a year.
During the period of prepara-
tion the class meets only for the
purpose of rehearsing that opera.
In thq course of a year it is not
unusual for the "classroom" for
Opera 153 to move back and forth
between Hill Auditorium, the First
Baptist Church, Angell Hall Aud.
A and Lydia Mendelssohn
Prepare for Stage
All work the students do is di-
rected toward preparing them for
the professional stage. With this
in mind, Prof. Blatt selects the
repertoire to expose his students
to a wide range of styles. He must
also pick the operas to fit the
available voices rather than vice
All full operaticproductions
are presented in English. Prof.
Blatt says, "I don't believe in
dramatic performances in a lan-
guage people don't understand.
And an opera is, or should be, a
dramatic performance."
Many of the translations used
are the work of Prof. Blatt him-
self, who has translated 14 operas
into English, including a new,
fast-moving version of Moussorg-
sky's unfinished Russian folk op-
era "The Fair."
Uses Orchestra
The full opera productions use,
in addition to the members of
the opera class themselves, an
orchestra and an opera chorus.
The opera chorus is a unique con-
ception-a one credit hour course,
open by audition to anyone on
Besides the full operas, one of
the chief activities each semes-
ter is the production of "scenes
from opera." These scenes, some
in English and some in the ori-
ginal languages, are chosen pri-

marily to teach the students ex-
pression, both in singing and in
To emphasize acting and sing-
ing alone, street clothes are worn
and chairs serve as the only stage
settings. A piano is substituted
for the usual orchestra accom-
Preparing Operas
At present the opera class is
working on a series of "scenes"
from three famous operas, to be
produced today and tomorrow.
The series consists of Verdi's
"Aida", scenes from Act III in
Italian, Act III of "Faust", by
Gounod, in French and the final
scene of Mozart's "Cosi Fan
Tutte," in English.
Each selection is accompanied
by a narration which relates the
action to the plot as a whole.
Rehearsals for the Opera
Scenes are now taking the place
of class meetings. Ten of the 16
class members are taking part.
The cast of the selections from
"Aida", a story of ancient Egypt,
is comprised of James Berg,
'57SM, as Ramphis, Alice Dutch-
er, Grad., as Amneris, Irene Kunst
'58SM, as Aida and Jack Zei,
Grad, as Amonastro. The Opera
Chorus is also heard.
Practice "Faust"
"Faust," telling of a bargain
with the devil, features Miss
Dutcher as Siebel, James Miller,
Grad, as Faust, Berg as Mephisto,
June Law as Margherite and Shir-
ley Gosling, Grad, as Marthe.
Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte" hu-
morously demonstrates the adage
"Women are like that." The char-
acters include Ferrando and Gug-
lielmo, two soldiers, sung by Mil-
ler and Zei, and their two fickle
sweethearts Fiordiligi and Dora-
bella, Miss Kunst and Miss
Dutcher. Also included are Svea
Blomquist, '57SM as Despina and
Wendell Orr, Grad., as Alfonso.
After their performances here
"Scenes from Opera" will be
presented twice for the public,
8:30 p.m. today and tomorrow, in
Aud. A, Angell Hall.

1room field
Begins Soon'
Competition for annual Broom-
field Awards will begin May 15.
Cash prizes of $500 are awarded
to University students and alum-
ni for essays "related to adult ed-
ucation in good citizenship."
Applicants should submit type-
written statements telling full
name, mailing address, name of
school or college of enrollment,1
subject, plan of research, outline
and qualifications in the field.
These must reach the Broom-1
field Awards Committee, Hutchins
Hall, before May 15.
From these applications the
committee will select one or more
essays to be completed before Dec.
16, 1957.
The essays must be of a quality
suitable for publication without
being previously published.
A tri-service review of the Uni-
versity ROTC units will be held
at 6 p.m. today at the soccer field
east of the Stadium.
All men in the Army, Navy and
Air Force units will be present to
honor Col. Cecil W. Land, U. S.
Army, Capt. Richard D. Zern, U.S.
Navy, retiring from active duty
and Col. William H. Parkhill, U.S.
Air Force, leaving his unit.
Men interested in being orien-
tation leaders this fall may apply
for interviews today through
Wednesday in the student offices
of the Union.
Orientation leaders will receive
free meals during the three day
period, according to University
Affairs Committee Chairman
Barry Shapiro, '59.
* * *
Hubert M. Blalock, instructor in
the sociology department, will
discuss "The Sociological Prob-
lems and Tools of Integration" at
the last meeting of the Culture
Club at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the
Mason Hall's entire third floor
will be the location of the Depart-
ment of Psychology's annual open
house, from 3 to 5 p.m. tomorrow.
Visitors will have an opportu-
nity to have their brain waves
charted, take a lie detector test,
and test their intellectual and
manual skills, according to Law-
rence Littig, department member.
Guided tours to several psy-
chology labs will be offered to the
The department will present
additional exhibits and displays
in the areas of perception, social
pschology, animal psychology,
learning, emotion, motivation and
the nervous system.
Bll Office Supply
213 E. Washington Ph. 3-1161

Questionnaires To Sample
Opinion of Literary School
Q"estio""aires wil" be"distri- "Keeping in mind that the re-
buted May 14 and 15 to sample st
turns from this questionnaireI
student opinion of the courses and be
teaching in the literary school. used by the instructor in
the process of improving his
Tteaching, please mention any oth-
handled by student monitors, who er aspects of the course or in-
will seal them in manila envelopes structor . . . not covered in pre-
and bring them to collection sta- vious questions . . . and offer any
tions in the Mason Hall Lobby. suggestions which you have for
the improvement of the course."
According to Prof. A. J. Carr,
chairman of the college commit-
tee, the answered, questionnaires
will not be seen by instructors un-
til after final grades have been
Prof. Carr stressed the fact that
student participation in the pro-
gram is entirely voluntary and
that all opinions will remain
strictly anonymous. Beau
Sample questions from the (M rige in
questionnaire are:( r
"What is your judgment as to
the value of this course in your
education? Please point out both AA

its contributions and its deficien-
"How well was the instructor
able to stimulate your interest in
the material of the course? Give
specific reasons for your opinion.


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a . . . . . .
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nformative orientation sessions Date: Wednesday, May 8, 1957
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