REVIEW: La Bohème

The School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s production of the opera La Bohème was certainly a treat. Featuring the University Opera Theatre and the University Symphony Orchestra, it was a chance to go to the opera without leaving campus!

Though La Bohème was first performed in 1896 (the music is by composer Giacomo Puccini, and the libretto, or words, is by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica), this performance was set in the post-war era. This allowed for more modern costuming and set design, and in my opinion, it also made the entire storyline seem more relatable, as the characters were not in the distant past. The addition of English captions over the stage was also a welcome addition, since the entire opera is in Italian (which, unfortunately, I am not fluent in).

If you know the musical Rent, the plot of La Bohème will be familiar, as the musical is a modern adaptation of the opera. However, though the storyline contains themes of youth, romance, poverty, and realities of the “Bohemian” existence, the plot seemed rather underdeveloped to me. In particular, the ending seemed abrupt, and I would have liked more closure (though perhaps this serves to further the opera’s themes).

That said, the simplicity of the plot allows the opera’s music to shine through. The University Symphony Orchestra performed the score spectacularly, and the leads and the chorus were also wonderful. I enjoyed the fact that the design of the Power Center allows the orchestra to be largely visible, rather than hidden under the stage. Sometimes, however, this was to my detriment, as I was watching the orchestra and listening to the music rather than watching the on-stage action and reading the captions!

In the area of set design, the opera production was also stunning. There was a short intermission between each of the opera’s four acts to allow time for elaborate set changes, and they were certainly worth the wait. I can only imagine the time and effort that goes into designing and constructing the sets. My personal favorite was the set for Act II, which took place in Paris’s Latin Quarter on Christmas Eve. Featuring a nearly full-scale two-story building façade, streetlamps, and Christmas wreaths and garlands, it was a work of art. On a separate note, this scene also featured members of the University of Michigan Marching Band, as well as the Ann Arbor Youth Chorale! I also enjoyed the set for Act III, which featured falling snow and a moving train.

The School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s production of La Bohème was an excellent opportunity to see a high-quality performance right here in Ann Arbor, and I am glad that I had the chance to attend!

PREVIEW: La Bohème

Don’t miss the School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s production of La Bohème, featuring the University Opera Theatre and the University Symphony Orchestra. The opera’s music is by Giacomo Puccini, and the libretto (words) are by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. The opera, which takes place in Paris and tells a story of youth and romance, enjoys enduring popularity despite the fact that it premiered over 100 years ago in 1896: The New York Times called La Bohème “the world’s most popular opera,” and the musical Rent is actually a modern reincarnation of Bohème.

The opera is running at the Power Center for the Performing Arts from November 7 – November 10. The November 9 show is at 8 pm, and the November 10 show is a matinee at 2 pm. Tickets, which are $13 with a student ID, may be purchased at the Michigan League Ticket Office, or online.

REVIEW: SpringFest

This past week marked the annual SpringFest capstone event hosted by MUSIC Matters. Founded in 2011, MUSIC Matters purpose is to “utilize the power of music to unite the Michigan community and promote educational accessibility.” The organization spends the entire year hosting various events on and off campus to promote music and create cohesion amongst students. SpringFest is their culminating project that attracts an audience of 10,000 people for their daytime and nighttime events.

 

This year, the Daytime festival took over State St. and North U., hosting over 80 student organizations, 7 food truck vendors, live performances, and various pop-up shops. One of the newest additions to this year’s Daytime festival was hosting Ann Arbor artisans. Traditionally, corporate sponsors were invited to have pop-up shops but this year focused on inviting smaller companies and student sellers. Aside from this addition, the festival included live dance and music performances from student organizations such as Maize Mirchi, the Men’s Glee Club, and FunKtion. Another component of the festival that I personally enjoyed was the presence of various orgs that promote health, wellness, and sustainability. There were interactive events for yoga, sustainable food practices, and CAPS even had representatives from their CAPS In Action student committee. It was really inspiring to see so many talented, ambitious, and creative students showcasing their work and talent to the campus community.

 

Following the immersive Daytime festivities is (what I believe to be the more known of the two) the Nighttime Concert. Since 2012, MUSIC Matters has hosted artists Common, J. Cole, 2 Chainz, Migos, and Lil Yachty in Hill Auditorium. As a junior who is also a big fan of well-known hip-hop artists, this was surprisingly my first time ever attending. This year’s headliner was A$AP Ferg, otherwise known as a member of A$AP Mob. Amongst some of Ferg’s most popular songs are Plain Jane, Shabba, New Level, and Work REMIX. His opening acts consisted of two DJs and two performance groups.

 

The first DJ was Jeff Basta. Had it not been for him being the DJ to play as people were still entering the auditorium, I think he could have gotten a lot more energy out of the audience. I really enjoyed his music choice and his energy while playing was admirable considering not many others were entertained/paying attention. The second DJ was Namix who served as a transition for the first opening act — Tracy Money (IG: prodbytracy). “TracyGang #333” is a group of three current and former U-M students who go by the names of $cottie Pimpin’, Fatz, and Tracy D. Although this was not my first time seeing them perform, this was my first time seeing them own the stage in a large auditorium. Their performance got the crowd on their feet and ready for the night.

 

Following Tracy Money was B Free from Detroit. I could be biased, but my personal preference for style, originality, and overall entertainment purposes would choose Tracy Money over B Free’s performance. Nonetheless, both performances were a well-needed segway into opening for A$AP Ferg.

 

Ferg was full of energy and was an authentic performer. You could sense his desire to be just as engaged with the audience as we were with him. However, this desire quickly led to some shockingly inappropriate comments on his behalf targeted at several women in the audience. I think it’s reasonable for a performer to want to feel more connected with the audience and interact with them but to single specific women out and express sexual desires in front of everyone, into the microphone, was embarrassing and disgusting. The remainder of the concert left me feeling odd and distraught as I was stuck questioning “Did he really just say that”?? Carrying on, he performed all of my favorite songs and it was a fun concert. I’m certain that this will be remembered as one of my favorite undergraduate experiences, despite the belittling comments that put a damper on my overall impression.

Photos courtesy of IG: vinsanityproductions.co

PREVIEW: A/PIA Heritage Month Closing Ceremony’s Prism Gala

Deck out in your fanciest gear for A/PIA Heritage Month’s last event of the year. Called the Prism Gala, the ceremony will features dancers, speakers, and awards for the A/PIA community.

There will be a screening of campus organization Uncover: A/PIA’s video “In My Mind: A/PIA’s and Mental Health.” The evening will also feature Seoul Juice and rXn.

The event was possible by the efforts of MESA, United Asian American Organizations, and the A/PIA Heritage Month committee.

The event is at the UMMA on April 20th from 7-10PM. You need to RSVP but it is a free event! The dress code is an encourage black tie or cultural attire. I’ll be the girl in the black shalwar kameez.

REVIEW: Xylem Release Party

Xylem, according to the opening letter of the 2018-2019 issue, has existed since 1990. I myself have been a part of the two most recent issues of the magazine, and even in the span of that one year it evolved immensely. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a part of a publication with that type of history and capacity for growth. This year’s issue presented a unique collection of artists, each expressing their own forms of metamorphosis. While the release event itself was inspiring, the magazine is what I would like to preserve in writing.

One of the pieces that stood out to me during my initial read through of the magazine was Notes on Colors by Christine Mackenzie. Instead of normal stanza breaks, Notes on Colors separates lines with simple dashes. This creates a stream of consciousness feel to the read of the poem, which strengthens its subject matter. Notes on Colors, to me, is about being able to associate other senses with the perception of visual color. The poem utilizes a lot of nature imagery, like the feeling of wind to evoke the blue sky of a summer’s day or cranberry juice drying on your tongue to evoke the heat of redness. All in all, it’s a brilliant poem focusing on multiple forms of perception to solidify its expression of one.

Another piece that was particularly striking was Elizabeth Le’s Out of Many, One. The aspects of the poem that I found the most captivating were in its discussion of “broken language.” This is a theme I’ve discussed many times in past classes, so I’m familiar with its academic discourse and what it can bring to a classroom conversation. Despite that, I haven’t come across that theme a lot in my everyday life, so I thought it was refreshing to know the subject matter in a different context.

Out of Many, One accomplishes a lot in the small space of the poem. The narrative voice contrasts itself with certain aspects of her mother, illustrating how eloquent the mother figure is and how inadequate the narrator feels by comparison. The importance of physical beauty and musical talent are important to the narrator because they are emblematic of her culture. The narrator, however, feels as if she doesn’t belong to neither American culture nor her native one. Most of this internal struggle stems from observations she makes about language. Le ends her poem with “Bless it despite its ugliness. / Bless it / anyway.” It was a powerful poem with an optimistic conclusion.

The cover of the magazine itself is also really cool, with a glossy feel to it and a stark black and white color scheme. Images are printed in color on special paper in the middle of the magazine. While I understand the practicality of that, part of me wishes the images were spread a little more throughout the other works. Overall, however, I’m really glad to be featured in the 2018-2019 issue of Xylem, with my work residing alongside many other incredible pieces of art.

PREVIEW: Xylem Release Party

Xylem is one of The University of Michigan’s literary magazines. The magazine features University of Michigan undergraduate artwork, including poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, artwork and photography.

Tomorrow, April 9th, Xylem Literary Magazine is hosting their annual release party to celebrate the newest issue of their magazine. From 7-9pm, the event will be held in the West Conference Room of Rackham Graduate School (on the 4th floor). Published authors and artists will get a chance to grab copies of the magazine, read their work, and celebrate another successful issue of Xylem!