In Sturges Auditorium on Monday, Nov. 17, the School of the Arts presented the intriguing orchestra concert "Willkomen: Cabaret in the Concentration Camps."
The show was based on the cabaret performed by prisoners in the camps during World War II. Anne-Marie Reynolds of the music department described this style historical cabaret as "quite bizarre."
A graduate class taught at University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music inspired the lecture-recital. Alisa Curle and Korin Kormick, the performers of "Willkomen," both currently attend Eastman.
The show presented the historical and cultural contexts of cabaret during the Third Reich through an informative lecture interwoven with 1940's cabaret songs.
The program for the show came with a complete outline of information about the original cabaret performers. This information provided a taste of the devastating reality that inspired the music of "Willkomen."
The program also contained lyrics to the songs, introducing audience members to the ironies of numbers like "Sex Appeal" and "L'heure Blue," which dealt with the luxuries in life to which prisoners did not have access, as well as the sarcastic and eerie depression of pieces such as "Tersin Song" and "We're Riding Wooden Horses."
Most of the pieces, although originally composed in German, were performed in English. Curle, Eastman scholar and pianist, explained that she thought this change would better represent the "immediacy of humor" present in the lyrics.
In her lecture Curle claimed, "Cabaret was also an art containing intellectual criticism," which was used as a distraction for prisoners and their Nazi keepers, "to create and illusion of morality."
Mezzo-soprano Kormick, the Eastman vocalist and scholar, was outstanding. She made the cliché acting, singing and dancing involved in "Willkomen" seem faithfully traditional yet contemporarily relevant. She made the essence of Weimar, where the cabaret originally took place, ring violently into the audience's ears.
The lecture piece of the performance was spoken only, and although the content was necessary to the experience of "Willkomen," it lacked charisma especially when contrasted with the talent of Kormick performing.
Both Curle and Kormick were sincerely passionate about what they brought to the event, however, and their intentions shined through what dullness may have come from the dry reading of a list of dates and names.
Students exited the performance buzzing about the social issues presented. Sophomore Catherine Martini said she thought that, "the show was different and pretty entertaining."
Overall, "Willkomen: Cabaret in the Concentration Camps" was an educational and captivating success.