The Torment and Delight of La
By Emily Chase
the classical music lover, few sensory experiences are more
welcome than the sounds of an orchestra tuning. As each
musician runs through his or her final exercises the audience
waits in anticipation for the conductor to unite them in that
simple, yet electrifying, chord.
Teatro Lirico D’Europa brought that familiar sound to Sangamon
Auditorium with Verdi’s La Traviata.
Based on Alexander Dumas’s play La Dame aux Camelias, La
Traviata tells the story of Violetta, a courtesan who today
would be considered a “party girl.” At one of her parties she
meets Alfredo, a member of the prominent Germont family; almost
immediately he professes his love for her, having watched her from
afar for some time. Violetta, cynical from past heartbreaks,
tells him she can neither love nor be loved. However, she finds
herself interested in Alfredo and his optimism; they become lovers
and spend time alone in the French countryside.
day, while Alfredo is in Paris, his father, Giorgio Germont speaks
with Violetta, convincing her that their relationship is ruining
the Germont family’s happiness and will eventually ruin Alfredo as
well. She tearfully agrees to leave and Alfredo mistakenly
believes Violetta left him for another man.
mutual friend’s party, Violetta tries to warn Alfredo that the
Baron Douphol, a former lover, may try to hurt Alfredo but he
misunderstands. Angered, he forces her to (falsely) admit she
loves the Baron and then insults her in front of the party
guests. Even his own father rebukes Alfredo and they all demand
Several months later, Violetta, dying of tuberculosis, learns in a
letter from Giorgio that he explained everything to Alfredo, who
still loves her and is on his way to be with her. Violetta knows
her death is imminent but survives long enough to exchange words
of love with Alfredo one last time.
La Traviata, Verdi’s criticism of
prejudice, social morality, religion and duty, should be a
powerful tragedy. However, a few details that should have been
minor kept this production from reaching its full potential.
any show the chorus makes or breaks the story’s credibility. The
chorus of La Traviata, though musically solid, at times
seemed unsure of what to do, where to stand and how to react.
Their combined voices also were surprisingly weak for more than
twenty people singing at once.
makeup design left some of the women looking like painted
prostitutes; the wigs also appeared cheap and poorly made. (Hint
to the makeup and wig staff: a yellow-blonde wig should not be
worn by a Hispanic man.) The hair, makeup and costume designers
apparently channeled portraits of Beethoven for Alexi Ivanov, as
Violetta’s doctor, with his stern but concerned brow, chin-length
gray hair and long coat.
an opera like this costumes often break the budget but La
Traviata’s costumes were a mixed bag. Some, including all of
Violetta’s costumes, were beautiful, rich and more or less
historically accurate. Others, however, appeared not only
unattractive or unsuited for their wearers but also ill-fitting
and even poorly-made.
show did have its high points. Soprano Steffanie Pearce as
Violetta tackled a challenging, range-stretching score with aplomb
and only a few acting missteps; she had the false cheerfulness of
a person hiding her true feelings but gave no indication of what
attracted Alfredo and her other lovers beyond her physical
beauty. The full baritone of Sergei Moskalkov (Giorgio) relayed
his sincerity and paternal love. Mezzo Elena Marinova, as
Violetta’s friend Flora, and tenor Shivko Shelev as Alfredo also
delivered fine performances.
opera novices, La Traviata serves as a good introduction to
this vast world. Teatro Lirico D’Europa’s production had it flaws
but serves it purposes of entertainment and emotional drama.
Mall Gun shots make for frightening
out of Bergner’s, I was basically trampled by a family, which in
my opinion, was way too into whatever scavenger hunt they happened
to be involved in. Regaining my stance, the family was soon
followed by another group. I just remember hearing, “No! Use the
escalator, not the elevator!” What in the world?
It wasn’t too much longer when I
heard the word “gun” yelled. Before I knew it, my mother who was
at one time only 5 steps behind me, got washed away in the group
of people running towards the door. The group was a mob before I
knew it, and the gun shots became only background noise to the
screams heard by the mall employees. It was a nightmare.
I turned to make sure Mom was
alright. “Hurry! We’ve got to get out of here!” I yelled,
trying to remain composed.
Assuming she was right behind me, I
kept moving. “Oh no!” I heard her say. Frightened I looked to
see what had happened. I saw my mother removing her shoe. I was
confused. What’s going on?
She had something in her shoe.
The moral of the story? Don’t get
the rock out of your shoe when you’re being chased by a gunman….
How does this story relate to this
review? Had it not been for this incident, not only would there
have been more time to write the article, but it also would have
probably been on a different movie.
Leaving the gunman behind, how
would you like to go through the agony, nervousness, and turmoil
of 50 first dates….with the same person?!?! Well, Henry loved
every minute of it.
Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore
rekindled their on-screen chemistry from the previous Sandler film
The Wedding Singer, giving love a little more than a second
chance…a 52nd chance!
With the typical Sandler crew in
place, 50 First Dates introduced the theaters to a new
perspective on dating. Lucy (Barrymore) meets Henry (Sandler) at
a local diner in Hawaii. Henry is twitter-pated from the first
meeting. Everything seems to go well, and Lucy even asks if Henry
wants to come back and eat breakfast together again tomorrow.
However, when Henry shows up the
next day, Lucy won’t even give him the time of day. As the title
of the film and of course all of the previews suggest, Lucy has no
short term memory.
Even though it has been about a
year since Lucy and her dad got in the accident that took her
memory away, she doesn’t even know anything is wrong—her dad and
brother make sure of that! Going so far as to wash the same
outfit, refill shampoo bottles, repaint walls, and celebrate the
same birthday every day, her family does not want her to go
through the turmoil of knowing something is wrong…every day.
Knowing that Lucy will never regain
her memory, when Henry comes into the picture, her father wants
nothing more than to protect his little girl. But somehow, as he
always does, Sandler’s character comes in to save the day—not ruin
Trying to remind Lucy of who he is
every single day, somehow Henry refuses to get discouraged.
Sweeping her off of her feet becomes a daily task, falling in love
all over again….and again, and again….
Sandler and Barrymore did
beautifully, as always. Sandler was as charming as Barrymore was
sweet. They really are a great combination. I can see why they
would recast the two into roles opposite each other.
Overall, the film is a romantic
comedy. As is to be expected with Sandler, 50 First Dates
will have you laughing right along with the characters.
Basically, it is worth seeing; I’m
glad I ended up seeing it—despite what it took to change my
plans. If you’re an Adam Sandler fan, you should plan to add it
to the collection.
‘Dream on, dream on, of bloody
deeds and death’ at Richard III
Richard III brought political intrigue, scandal, murder and
pure evil to Sangamon Auditorium on Friday, February 27.
Let me see
if I can pare the plot down to one hundred words or less: As
ambitious Richard plots to become king of England he arranges a
deadly feud between his brothers Clarence and King Edward IV;
courts and marries the daughter-in-law of the former king, Henry
VI, whose husband Richard killed in battle; he challenges
Elizabeth, Edward IV’s wife and her brothers for power over the
sick king; either alienates or has killed his advisors and
potential rivals; arranges the death of Anne, his wife, and
schemes to marry his niece to protect his power; imprisons his
nephews, Edward IV’s teenage sons, in the Tower of London so they
cannot assume the throne; and battles unsuccessfully the Tudor
dynasty led by the Earl of Richmond, the future Henry VII.
words. It is a very, very complicated plot.
For the most
part audience members just sit back and watch as Richard’s inner
circle loses members one by one until he has only two cronies left
from dozens. History nerds (such as myself) enjoy the logic
puzzle of following the blood and political relationships but they
are not for everyone.
production itself followed a post-modernist trend in theater,
especially Shakespearean theater: ultra simple staging. Bare
bones sets, few sound and light effects and abbreviated costumes
not only mean fewer expenses for the company but also a focus on
the plot. Some stage shows are a sensory experience, captivating
the eyes and ears; the Acting Company’s Richard III is not
one of those.
Barreca’s sets consisted of straight-backed chairs when needed
and, for lack of better term, lighting scaffolding. The actors,
as they roamed the stage, controlled and arranged about a dozen
moveable, seven by one by one (7x1x1’) foot scaffoldings with
dimmer lights. Though the overhead and foot lights were
controlled by the tech crew, the onstage lighting cues, designed
by Michael Chybowski, were handled by the actors as they moved on
the stage. At different times in the show the scaffoldings served
as walls, gates, doorways and the Tower of London. The crazy
Queen Margaret slithered between these to show her skulking about
followed recent trend as well. The options for costuming
Shakespearean plays seem to be either busting the show’s budget on
opulent, historically accurate velvet and brocade robes or
sticking to simple, affordable fabrics. Costumer James Scott
struck a compromise: the men wore long-sleeved black shirts and
black pants; the women, long-sleeved black dresses. Over the
plain black shifts, however, the men wore boldly colored and
jeweled tippets, or shoulder cloaks. With full costumes, floor
length velvet or silk robes would go under the tippets but for
this production the men’s only accessories were belts and swords.
The women as well wore only symmetrical sashes over their
dresses. These simple touches served to distinguish the
characters from one another – especially important in a play in
which many actors play multiple characters – and established
social and political position.
demands a strong lead actor to carry the plot. He must be
charismatic, manipulative, cold, appealing and physically
deformed. Spencer Aste filled that role with wit and delight in
evil. His Richard was keenly aware of what he was doing and of
how he was ruining peoples’ lives; he just did not care. During
one of his scenes I laughed out loud only to shiver a moment
later. The Prophetess Cassandra of the play, the role of Queen
Margaret demands much of her actor as well and Carine Montbertrand,
though at times over the top, for the most part kept her character
teetering on the line between clarity and insanity. Jenn Miller
Cribbs and Michael Gotch as Queen Elizabeth (Edward’s wife) and
Richard’s friend and eventual enemy Buckingham also stood out but
the scene stealers were Cedric Hayman and Bryan Cogman. Though
both men reappeared as nobility and Richard’s final allies early
in the show they distinguished themselves as the murderers hired
by Richard to kill his brother Clarence. One of the murderers
develops cold feet and allows Clarence to talk him out of killing
him, though the other does finish the job.
is one of Shakespeare’s more convoluted and unpleasant plays (you
would never believe it if it had not really happened) and is more
than a little scquered to favor the Tudors and depict the
Plantagenets as backstabbing and petty. The Acting Company’s
national tour, though puts on a fine show.