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May 18, 1986|MARC SHULGOLD

Doreen DeFeis finds herself between the proverbial rock and a hard place these days.

"I'm just one of millions of American singers who go over to Europe every year," jokes the soprano, who appears in a Pro Musicis recital at UCLA next Sunday.

"But now, after 4 1/2 years there, I'm kind of at a funny level. I can't take any more small engagements, and I'm still waiting to be invited to the big houses over there.

"I've done quite well in Europe," says DeFeis (pronounced De-FAY) during a conversation from New York. "I've had permanent positions in Kaiserslautern and Saarbruecken in Germany. And from those posts, you can make guest appearances all over Europe. But more than that, all my singing in Europe has made me feel completed as an artist. I have that extra little edge. Singing such roles as Pamina ("Die Zauberfloete") 20 times will give you a lot of confidence."

At 33, the singer feels no pressure of time. "My voice is getting richer and warmer," she says. "And I'm beginning to add some of the light lyric roles to my repertory, such as Norina ("Don Pasquale") and Sophie ("Der Rosenkavalier")."

DeFeis adds that a position with the more prestigious opera company in Duesseldorf is in the works. Still, a comfortable if unspectacular career in Europe doesn't exactly make her tingle with excitement. "I just don't like the mentality of Germany," she notes. "The tunnel vision over there, their attitude toward life. Sometimes I forget I'm living, as well as working, over there.

"Everyone merely takes opera as a matter of course. The conductors all beat time exactly, and you have to go with them."

While visiting the United States, DeFeis is hoping to make some contacts with major companies. Not so easy: "They just aren't interested unless you've sung in the bigger European houses. They suggested I go to Europe for more training." Undaunted, DeFeis has arranged for several auditions, and has invited numerous opera people to her Pro Musicis recitals (she also appears in Boston, San Francisco and New York).

Meanwhile she clings to a goal shared by many singers: "I would love to sing for James Levine." Levine, of course, is music director of the Metropolitan Opera. "I was a regional Met finalist in '79," she recalls, "and I sang (auditioned) for a lot of people at the Met, and you know what they told me? They said, 'There's no reason you shouldn't be here. But we already have'--and they proceeded to rattle off all the big names on their roster."

KIROV ON TV: PBS has announced that a performance of "Swan Lake" by the Kirov Ballet of Leningrad will be taped at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts near Washington early next month and shown nationally. The broadcast will be seen locally on KCET Channel 28 on June 8 at 2 p.m. The Kirov will open a six-performance engagement at the Shrine Auditorium on Wednesday.

"WAR REQUIEM" POSTPONED: A planned staged performance of Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem" by the William Hall Chorale, scheduled for May 31, has been postponed until next season. Hall cited financial reasons: "The budget for this production had swelled to $45,000. If we had gone ahead with it, we wouldn't have had next season. We're just a Ma and Pa Kettle operation. The annual budget is only about $125,000. I think we have to make a commitment to long-range funding."

Hall noted that a planned fund-raising event this year never happened. Even without the staging--involving some set pieces, slide images of war projected on a screen, etc.--the cost would have been "around $35,000," Hall said. "I just didn't want to put that fiscal monkey on them (the board of directors)."

According to Hall, some years back, Britten had told his close friend, the late tenor Peter Pears, that he had ideas of staging the Requiem. "As far as I know, it's never been done," Hall commented. The conductor is hoping to break that spell in March of next year.

MAHLER FACSIMILE: Today marks the 75th anniversary of the death of Gustav Mahler. It also marks the publication of something very special: a giant, 364-page volume that includes a facsimile edition of his "Resurrection" Symphony, complete with the composer's own markings and revisions (in blue pencil). This is the first time a complete facsimile of a Mahler symphony has been published.

Also included in this edition (Kaplan Foundation: $150) are 92 letters by Mahler about the symphony, an essay by Mahler scholar Gilbert Kaplan and a chronology by Edward Reilly of the long and winding road that lead to the work's completion.

In addition, some excerpts by contemporary critics are reproduced. One journalist was dismayed at the first movement's "atrocious, tormenting dissonances, in which it was difficult to find even a small grain of music."

NEW MUSIC BOOST: John Harbison, Joan Tower and Ellen Zwilich are among seven composers who will benefit from the recently announced American Telephone and Telegraph Foundation "AT&T American Encore" series involving the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestras. Each ensemble will receive $200,000 for two seasons, to underwrite the expenses of performing 20th-Century works "of high quality that have already been premiered, but have not been performed with any frequency since."

Those include Harbison's Symphony No. 1, Korngold's Violin Concerto, Piston's Symphony No. 4, Sessions' Symphony No. 1, Harold Shapero's "Classical" Symphony, Tower's "Island Rhythms" and Zwilich's Symphony No. 1--all scheduled for the Philharmonic's 1986-87 season.

AT&T is also granting $50,000 toward the premiere of Zwilich's Piano Concerto, which will be heard at the American Symphony Orchestra League national conference next month in Detroit.

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