Category: Media

Last night, Columbia University No Budget Sketch Show (CUSS) released their newest video, “Shmasterpieces of Western Lit: The Odyssey,” a video showcasing an overview of Homer’s Odyssey… from a different point of view.

Watch the video below.

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The Varsity Show began with a tour guide singing a catchy song about how great Columbia University is. At this point, I thought the Varsity Show would be a chipper piece about extolling the virtues of our great university.

As soon as an offstage actor threw a shoe at the tour guide and yelled, “No one gives a fuck!” I knew I was sorely mistaken.

The show loosely followed an alumni couple trying to decide if Columbia is the right school for their daughter — who hasn’t been born yet. The tour guide takes them to a typical Columbia classroom filled with stereotypical students and a drunk Professor. After an argument about why “the classics” are the classics (and if they should be considered classics after all), the class launches into dark tune called “There’s A Dead White Man Inside Us All.”

The alumni couple is fairly traumatized by the classroom discussion and discuss a world before trigger warnings, “safety spaces,” racism, and homophobia (which came about when “Ellen Degeneres invented it.”).

The couple then launches into “Greener Pastures,” a song that tells how they met each other and how the good old days are gone. This song wasn’t as strong as the first, but the faux ballet-like choreography was highly entertaining.

After the dance, a guy from Beta runs across the stage, handing out flyers for an upcoming party. The couple begs the tour guide for permission to go, and the tour guide reluctantly grants it.

Before the party, the audience sees the sisters of a sorority preparing. The preparation isn’t what you’d expect; the leader of the sisters urges them to remember the four B’s: “boobs, boos, boys, and backstabbing.” The couple goes to the party and is accepted by their respective Greek life group. When they question the slightly illegal things that are going on at the party, the entire group bursts into a rock song, “Leaders Tomorrow.” The song was about how the kids at the party are going places even though it doesn’t seem like it during their partying shenanigans. This was when the cast really showed their dancing skills. There had been dancing in “A Dead White Man Inside Us All, but it had mostly been sitting down. This dancing was fast-paced and intense, yet the cast was able to keep up their vocals and enunciation as they sang.

The show ended with the cast brandishing signs for the show’s official dates. Everyone left in a breath of exhilaration.

The Varsity Show Preview wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. Instead of the ragtag variety show I expected, it was a musical-quality show with a satirical edge. The Varsity Show wasn’t afraid to comment on uncomfortable things I realized as true. Not only did it make me think, but it made me chuckle. There’s no doubt this uncanny mix of truth and humor will delight almost everyone.

The Varsity Show runs from April 29 – May 2. You can grab your tickets here.

Most operas have the (unfair) reputation of being long, drawn-out affairs that require multiple hours of concentration. While it is true that there are some gargantuan opuses in the standard repertory, others get the job done in just an hour. Often multiple of these compact one-act works are presented together to offer a full night of entertainment. The most famous of these pairings is of two Italian operas composed within three years of each other, just before the turn of the last century – “Cavalleria rusticana” by Pietro Mascagni and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “I pagliacci”. Last month, these two classics were presented in a production by Sir David McVicar for the first performance in a month-long run at the Metropolitan Opera.

While the operas were not originally intended to be presented together, each is a gripping drama focused on the extraordinary trials of seemingly ordinary people. McVicar capitalized on these similarities and set both on the same piazza in a small Southern Italian town roughly fifty years apart. Before “Cavalleria” begins, the peasant woman Santuzza has been excommunicated due to her dalliances outside of wedlock with the local villager, Turiddu. Over the course of the opera, not only does she grapple with her outsider status, she must also face the revelation that Turiddu has abandoned her and taken up with a married woman.

After the intermission, we return to the same square, now just after the Second World War, as a troupe of clowns and acrobats arrives to entertain the townspeople. Unfortunately, Canio, the leader of the performers, discovers that his wife has moved on to another, younger lover, and his jealously and rage ultimately come to head during that evening’s performance with tragic results.

It was often hard to believe that the same director created both stagings. McVicar’s take on “Cavalleria” was stiff and drab, bereft of any of the genuine emotional urgency that throbs on every page of Mascagni’s score. Instead, much of the direction relied on the oversized melodramatic gestures that did little to convey the truth that lies at the piece’s heart. In contrast, his “Pagliacci” was inspired! At times, the production was incredibly funny and engaging, and these mirthful moments helped make the heartrending climax so much more impactful.

As the tortured Santuzza, soprano-turned-mezzosoprano Violetta Urmana sang with a warm, rounded tone that revealed the character’s inner virtue. Unfortunately, the upper limits of the role stressed her vocal capabilities and resulted in strained high notes. Even though his singing lacked much dimension, South Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee still brought an Italianate color to his performance of Turiddu; however, his reliance on insincere histrionics undermined his portrayal.

Mezzosoprano Ginger Costa-Jackson brought a supple sound to her role as Lola, the new object of Turiddu’s affection, while Ambroggio Maestri’s robust baritone seemed underserved in his somewhat wooden interpretation of Lola’s husband Alfio.

This season, tenor Roberto Alagna celebrates two decades since his Met debut, and he returned on this occasion as Canio, a role in which he has performed to acclaim around the globe. Alagna’s clean timbre has become clouded with time, and he spent much of the night forcefully delivering his music. His true strengths lay in his skill as an actor; he deftly portrayed the uncontrollable mix of love, anger, and despair that ultimately lead the character to commit murder.

As his wife Nedda, soprano Barbara Frittoli struggled to execute the role’s higher passages and offered only rare moments of penetrating singing in the middle of her range. George Gagnidze expertly rendered the dual personae of Tonio, a lecherous clown who forces himself upon Nedda backstage but is nothing but laughs before the public. With a strong, virile baritone, Alexey Lavrov brought much-needed heat as Silvio, Nedda’s ardent lover.

Audiences have come to rely on Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi for the wealth of color that he can draw from his musicians, and this performance was no exception. Luisi guided the orchestra and chorus though a reading of both pieces that was imbued with musical depth and dramatic integrity.

These operas are classics of the Italian operatic repertory and feature two of the best scores of the late nineteenth century. The music, along with the brilliant staging of “I pagliacci,” should appeal to Columbia students interested in the art form; however, the inconsistencies throughout cannot be avoided. It may be better to wait for another work from the same period to be performed later in the season – possibly the new production of Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” which opens in just a few weeks.

Performances of “Cavalleria Rusticana” and “I pagliacci” run through February 26. More information can be found online at www.metopera.org.

The 88th Academy Awards are scheduled to happen Sunday, February 2016 at 5:30pm. Each year, the Academy Awards (commonly termed “the Oscars”), honors the best films of the previous year with the most esteemed award in Hollywood.

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Voting can be a tedious process, but it is also a relatively quick one. Coming out of the Iowa Caucuses, where the difference was decided by 6 coin tosses on the Democratic side, it’s hard to say that it does not matter. For all the people who don’t have the right to vote here and for those who would risk their lives to live in a democracy, please do your research and vote. Look honestly at the candidates and their records, and pick the one that best represents your values. Episode 5 of Game of Thrones will still be there for you when you get back. Here are five questions that should help you figure out how to vote absentee:

  1. Is my state holding a primary or a caucus?

If it’s a caucus, you need to be there in person in almost all cases. Check your caucus, but it’s most likely that you can’t participate and you’re better off registering in NY. Caucuses (to summarize a mind-numbingly tedious and complex process) involve filing to different sides of the room and convincing everyone who’s undecided to join one side or the other. Counting votes is usually done by counting hands raised, so delegate counts are rough representations of the popular vote at best. Your voice matters more in a caucus if you’re loud and persuasive, but you need to be home to participate. Some states have tele-caucuses for soldiers abroad and expats, but they usually exclude all students attending college out of state, as Iowa did.

 

Map of states and primary format

Map of states and primary format

  1. In order to vote, when do I have to be registered? Do I have to join a political party?

VoteForBernie.org has a complete list of the various deadlines for registration and what parties are allowed to participate in each election/caucus. Pay attention to party-change deadlines (when you affiliate by). You may have voted without registering for a party in the past, as they are often before the registration deadline for first time voters. You can check your voter registration status here.

  1. Is it better to vote in my home state or register in NYC?

If you have voted before as an Independent, Green, or Republican, then this question is N/A because NY has an archaic rule that forces you to change parties in October. First time voters, however, can still register until March. If you’d like a postmarked like a voter registration form, just email columbia4bernie@gmail.com. We won’t ask you who you’re voting for, and we will give forms to anyone.

The logic behind registering in NY is that earlier primaries matter more. If your primary is before April 19th (check at VoteForBernie.org if you don’t know), and you can comfortably register and send in your ballot there, vote there. If it’s after, it may be more beneficial to register at your college address. You should also register in NY if you’ve already missed your primary or otherwise can’t vote in it.

  1. How do I request an absentee ballot and when do I need to request it?

Order your absentee ballot and Long Distance Voter.org now please. It will take you 5 minutes. The general rule for when to apply for/request one is a month before your primary, but some states deliver the ballots much faster than others. Check request deadlines here.

  1. When do I need to send in my absentee ballot?

Send it in within two weeks of your election if you can, as most states count when the ballot is received, not when it is sent, but check here to see your state. Happy voting.

This post was submitted by Columbia and Barnard for Bernie. To respond to this piece or submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com.