Opera Premieres Generate Positive Reviews
UB Spotlight's recent premieres of three new operas by the Figaro Project in the Student Center Performing Arts Theater has led to positive reviews—an indication that the local opera-loving community is taking notice of city-based institutions' efforts to keep the art form alive in a post-Baltimore Opera Company world.
Figaro's April 1-2 performances were highly successful, according to Kimberley Lynne, UB's theater events coordinator.
"The two nights of packed houses for the Figaro Project are proof that contemporary opera is alive and well in midtown Baltimore, drawing a diverse and multi-generational audience that was engaged and enthusiastic," Lynne said.
Blog site Sequenza 21 said the three works "presented both highlights and challenges to the fledgling [Figaro Project]."
"Combining the patina, unreliable narrator, and overlapping plot lines of modern-day puzzle films, [Piecing It Apart] had some wonderful musical moments as the relationship between the suspected killer and his hapless victim emerges throughout the story," the post noted.
Lux et Tenebrae "spiraled off in a completely different direction, forging together a mythological story of how shadows came to be through the adventures of a Child soon after the universe was formed. ... [T]he spectacle and depth of the story [were] provided by the talented cast but one felt the need of a scorecard at points to figure out who was who (the stylized costumes definitely helped here), and the increased orchestration made balancing the singers in the reverberant hall a challenge."
The review also noted that the closing opera, Strong Like Bull, was the highlight of the three.
"The story, loosely based around the tenuous political upheaval in Russia in the years following the deposition of the Czar, seemed one part Kubrick, one part Marx Brothers and admirably showcased each cast member's talents," the post said.
Another blog site, What's Opera, Doc?, made note of the performance space: "[T]here is something quite refreshing about hearing a work done in a small space with very little between the performers and the audience. [I]t was intimate in a way that most performances are not...."
The review praised all three operas as strong in both concept and execution, and encouraged the Figaro Project to be a leader in local efforts to "make it opera and not something else."
Trees Find Their Place Around Campus
New trees, bushes and hardy grasses are cropping up around campus, as UB's campus streetscape project enters its next phase. After weeks of workers measuring and installing granite support stones in a number of new or expanded tree wells on UB's grounds—especially along its "main street," Mt. Royal Avenue—the trees and other greenery are cropping up just as the weather turns nice.
The tall sycamore hybrids, combined with a mix of colorful bushes and lush grasses, are part of an extensive effort to establish a more welcoming, sustainable campus environment, according to Steve Cassard, vice president for real estate and facilities. Still to come are benches and other amenities that will enhance UB's urban environment and lend a sense of "place" to the campus, Cassard said.
Look for the sycamores to quickly become established, creating a wide shade canopy during warm months and bold leaf colors against their variegated bark in autumn. The trees are well adapated to urban settings, and are one of only a handful of tree species that can survive in all 50 states.
'13 Ways of Looking at a Librarian'
Catherine Johnson, reference and instruction librarian for Langsdale Library, was cited in an April 1 Chronicle of Higher Education article about the state of university libraries—an important topic in these days of lean budgets and shifting academic interests and research methods.
The article, "College Librarians Look at Better Ways to Measure the Value of Their Services," was prompted by a series of presentations at last month's Association of College and Research Libraries conference in Philadelphia. At that event, and at others before it, librarians made it clear that their value to an institution's core mission of teaching and learning is not something that can be measured in dollars and cents.
"Taking a page from the local sage and founding father Benjamin Franklin, who as a young man came up with a list of 13 personal virtues to cultivate, three up-and-coming librarians presented their own list of qualities, this one on what 'next-gen' librarians need to thrive in the 21st-century university," the article said.
"Catherine Johnson, a reference and instruction librarian at the University of Baltimore, added service-oriented to the tally, along with an ability to stay balanced and to be curious."
Chronicle reporter Jennifer Howard described Johnson and her fellow presenters as "convincingly optimistic" about the future of university libraries and the professionals who make them work.
"We are young librarians, which means the libraries of the future are ours to form," Johnson said in the article.
National Recognition for Small Business Development Center in Business School
The Central Region office of the Maryland Small Business Development Center in the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business has been named one of the country’s 10 best by Inc. Magazine. The Central Region office was listed by the magazine as one of the most active and influential small business development centers in the nation, providing exceptional support for the area’s entrepreneurial community.
In an article entitled "America's 10 Most Helpful SBDCs" published in February, the magazine ranked the 10 "most active and innovative" development centers in the United States, after interviewing a group of 45 leading entrepreneurs and small-business advocates.
"The centers that stand out provide exceptional support for their local entrepreneurial communities" and are "national models for effective small business advocacy," the publication said.
The Central Region office opened its doors at UB in September 2010.
Video Marks Debut of UB 21, USM Strategic Plan
Stop by a new video gallery on the president's pages to view a video for the campus debut of UB 21 and the University System of Maryland strategic plan, shot on March 16 in the Student Center Performing Arts Theater.