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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 6, 1999)
‘Soul’ of Cather s work at Plains festival
By Diane Broderick
Her name is synonymous with great
Nebraska literature, and tonight audi
ences will see Willa Cather’s works con
nected to great music.
As part of the Great Plains Music
and Dance Festival and Symposium,
the School of Music is presenting
“Voices of the Great Plains: Music
Theater Adaptations of Willa Cather’s
The presentation will consist of
excerpts from three adaptations of
Cather’s literature by three different
composers performed by about 15
University of Nebraska-Lincoln stu
Cather’s connection to the Great
Plains is an obvious reason her work
was chosen for the festival, said Arial
Bybee, one of the organizers of
But Cather’s affinity for music
makes these musical adaptations a nat
ural step, Bybee said.
“Eighty percent of Willa Cather’s
work has music in it,” Bybee said, refer
ring mainly to characters who play
instruments in her writings.
“She loved music. She always said
she had to have music in everything she
Of the three adaptations that will be
presented, two are based on Cather’s
short story “Eric Hermannson’s Soul,” a
love affair set against the backdrop of a
Focus on the Festival
A week-long look at highlights of the
Great Rains Music and Dance Festival
What: “Voices of the Plains: Music
Theatre Adaptations of Willa Cather’s
Where: The Johnny Carson Theater, 301
N. 11th St.
When: Tonight at 8
The Skinny: Musical look at one of
Nebraska’s greatest writers
farmer struggling with his religious
conviction and his love for music and
other worldly pleasures.
An opera and a musical, “Out to the
Wind” by Robert Beadell and “Eric
Hermannson’s Soul” by Libby Larsen,
have been based on this short story, and
excerpts will be presented from each.
Bybee said the excerpt from
Larsen’s work, which premiered last
year, is one of the best from her entire
opera. It is one in which Eric
Hermannson, a violinist, is asked by his
preacher to give up his music, which the
preacher thinks is evil. If Hermannson
doesn’t, the preacher will condemn his
soul to hell.
“The minute we got the score, we
turned to that page and said, ‘This is the
one we’ve got to do,’” Bybee said.
To complete “Eric Hermannson’s”
representation, four sections will be
shown from Beadell’s “Out to the
was written in
In addition to
these two pieces,
will be present
White said he
got the idea V/i
years ago to
adapt an opera
from that popular
Cather novel, and
he will premiere
the entire work
this November at
In fact, one of
the duets that will
tonight was just
White said he chose O Pioneers!
to adapt because it is one of the more
linear tales Cather wrote, and it employs
such traditional opera plots as adultery
“O Pio-neers!” is the tale of a young
woman who must take over her parents’
farm when her father dies. The bulk of
the story takes place 16 years later and
has two main romantic plots.
One involves the heroine,
Alexandra, being reunited with the love
jf her life, and the other concerns her
younger brother and the love that devel
ops between him and a married neigh
“There have been scholars that have
suggested that aspects of the plot were
actually inspired by opera,” White said.
The recent interest in creating musi
cal adaptations of Cather’s work comes
from a larger trend, White said.
“(It’s) part of a larger interest in cre
ating operatic adaptations of American
literature,” White said.
There have been several recently, he
said, including versions of “The Great
Gatsby” and “A Streetcar Named
This, coupled with an elevation of
Cather’s place in the canon of American
literature, makes her work a natural
choice for current operatic adaptation.
“It just makes sense,” White said.
Two excerpts, the opera’s opening
scene and an aria, will be performed
from “O Pioneers!”
Professor William Shomos, the
director of the opera program and over
seer of tonight’s event, said Cather’s
words and plots, and her beautiful
descriptions of Nebraska landscapes,
lend themselves well to opera.
“(Cather) tells a good story. She
really captures the human spirit in her
writings,” Shomos said. “I think every
composer’s challenge then is to evoke
the atmospheres with which she sur
rounds her stories.”
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‘Ten Things’ easy to hate
By Danell McCoy
Hollywood’s infatuation with high
school love stories has brought another
sickly coming-of-age story to the
screen for the enjoyment of teenybop
The story idea for “10 Things” was
taken from Shakespeare’s “The Taming
of the Shrew” but falls quite short of the
The movie (like the play) focuses on
two sisters. Popular and naive Bianca
(Larisa Oleynik), and her older, ill-tem
pered, argumentative and socially inde
pendent sister, Katerina (Julia Stiles).
Their father (Larry Miller), has
made the rme that Bianca is not allowed
to date until Kat does. Unfortunately for
Bianca, Kat has no interest in dating.
Enter Cameron James (Joseph
Gordan-Levitt) the new guy at school
who falls for Bianca. With help from his
brainy sidekick, a plan is hatched to get
Kat to date and to remove Bianca from
underneath her father’s thumb.
From there the plot is basically pre
dictable. A deal is made with the school
outcast and rebel, Patrick (Heath
Ledger), to get Kat to date, Kat falls for
him and Bianca is allowed to go out.
Antics and emotional scenes ensue.
Disappointing was the character of
Kat, who seemed to be intellectual and
able to survive without a guy in her life
in the beginning. But by the end of the
Title: “10 Things I Hate About You’
Stars: Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt,
Director: Gil Junger
Five Words: Plot is overused and formulaic
movie, she turns out to be just like every
other teen-age girl in every other movie.
The emotional revelations that are
supposed to take place between the
characters are shallow and bring noth
ing of interest into the movie. The sis
ters do not grow closer, and Bianca is
continually shallow after her and Kat’s
The movie would have been a com
plete flop if it had not been for the quirk
iness of the adult characters. The dad
speaks slang, the guidance counselor
writes pornography and the English
teacher has a quick-tongued attitude.
“10 Things” could’ve succeeded
had it not used the same idea as so many
other movies. It would have been nice to
see Bianca’s character expand emotion
ally and Kat’s character stay indepen
dent of the high school social scale.
But in Hollywood, the guy always
gets the girl, the girl always forgives the
guy for putting bets on her emotions
and the money always comes rolling in.
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