Category: Media

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.

The candidacy of Donald Trump for the Presidency of the United States has been the center of the political universe ever since he announced in June. Millions have watched as Trump has meteorically risen to the top of nearly every poll, with thousands and thousands of supporters drawn to each of his rallies at various points across the country. Many are surprised to see that Trump is doing so well, and have attempted to write off his success to his celebrity, “fear mongering” or pandering. While there may be some truth to these theories, they ignore a key concept, which is all too often overlooked by cable news and political pundits. They miss the historical context of Trump’s rise.

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Over break, CUIT updated it’s channel lineup adding several new channels along with the addition of increased HD availability. In order to view new channels, students will need to use their TV’s rescan feature to gain access to cable television. Along with this change, several channels have switched channel numbers.

From their website:

All televisions will need to be autoscanned on Thursday, January 14, 2016 after 8AM to pickup the new channel lineup being provided by CUtv.

New channel editions include the NFL Network (HD), France 24 (SD), and BBC America (HD).

The updated channel lineup can be found here.