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Mackerras At Opener Of Chamber Orchestra

September 14, 1986|DANIEL CARIAGA

Sir Charles Mackerras, the American-born Australian musician who has lived in Great Britain for the past 30 years, returns to Southern California this week to open the new season of Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

At the Embassy Theatre, downtown, Thursday night, and at Ambassador Auditorium, Saturday, Mackerras conducts a Mozart/Shostakovich/Richard Strauss program devoted to the "Linz" Symphony, the Cello Concerto No. 1 and the Suite, "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme."

On the phone from San Francisco, where he is leading performances of Leos Janacek's "Jenufa"--opening tonight in War Memorial Opera House--Mackerras talked briefly about the Chamber Orchestra and his soloist here, cellist Ofra Harnoy, and more extensively about "Jenufa."

Some observers have noted that translations of the 60-year-old composer's most popular opera into languages other than the original Czech are difficult to make, sometimes problematic to sing and seldom idiomatic to Janacek's music.

"I rather feel that way, too," Mackerras said. "I first conducted 'Jenufa' in English, later in German, and I've even done it in French.

"There are several problems with translations, one of which is that every word in Czech is accented on the first syllable. Since that is not true in most other languages, it can be a problem in translating. You see, there are no upbeats.

"Some of the English translations work well. And the German translation, made by Max Brod, actually had the composer's approval. The French translation does not work at all."

An acknowledged and acclaimed Janacek specialist, as well as editor of the Czech composer's operas, Mackerras said that there are no more undiscovered or neglected Janacek operas, as there were when he first began conducting opera, in the late 1940s.

"But, speaking of Czech writers, there are works by (Bohuslav) Martinu that deserve to be revived. And, among 20th-Century operas, many others. Busoni's 'Doktor Faust,' for instance."

Musical director of the English National Opera from 1970 to 1977, Mackerras has also had long-term musical relationships with opera companies in Hamburg and Vienna. In 1987, he takes over as head of the Welsh National Opera. Orchestrally, he becomes principal guest conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic as of this month. Now, he will have little time for extended travel, Mackerras said.

"I would love to go back to Australia, but it's just too far, though I am scheduled to be there in 1988, for the centenary of 'Die Meistersinger.' And, I will be coming back to San Francisco in 1989." However, it's still too early, Mackerras said, to reveal what he will conduct in San Francisco in 1989.

LIBRARY SERVICES: More than 100 orchestras in 10 counties between the U.S.-Mexico border and San Luis Obispo have been affected by the fires at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles.

According to Cheryl Kiley, senior librarian in the art and music sections of the library, these ensembles depend on use of the library's collection of about 2,400 orchestral scores and parts in their annual programming.

"After the fire of April 29, we closed down all operations, though not because our collection was damaged--actually, it was virtually intact.

"We temporarily reopened our service to orchestras during the summer, honoring reservations some of them had made months before. Then we closed down again, to take inventory, and were scheduled to start up again on Sept. 6."

On Sept. 3, there was another fire.

"Now," Kiley said, "we have no records or files. Our account books are gone. The collection, however, seems to be 98% intact, though everything is in disorder."

Kiley said there are few alternatives for most of the orchestras served by the library, orchestras that range from small, church-centered ensembles all the way to fully professional bodies, like the Pasadena Symphony.

"For those who can afford it, there are a handful of rental services," the librarian said. "But most of our subscribers are really suffering." Kiley said the Central Library expects to move to a temporary site at the beginning of 1987.

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