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Upcoming Opera Season Gives Verdi Top Billing

January 22, 1987|KENNETH HERMAN

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Opera's 1987-88 season looks like a celebration of Italian opera's favorite son, Giuseppe Verdi.

At a press conference Wednesday, San Diego Opera general director Ian Campbell announced that the company's four-opera international series will open Oct. 10 with Verdi's "Rigoletto" and will finish with his "Il Trovatore," which will open Feb. 27, 1988. As a postscript to the series, which will be performed at San Diego's Civic Theatre, the company will present Verdi's "Requiem" on March 9, 1988.

"We're offering the two Verdi operas this season because of the singers who were available to us," Campbell said. To assess the balance and variety of a company's repertory, he said, "You really must look at the repertory over a five-year period, not just a single season."

In between the Verdi offerings, Campbell has sandwiched Donizetti's popular opera buffa , "L'Elisir d'amore," a San Diego Opera premiere that will open Oct. 31, and Gounod's "Faust," opening Feb. 13, 1988. Each Civic Theatre opera will be sung in its original language, with OperaText translations projected overhead.

Gone from the 1987-88 season are the contemporary one-act operas staged at the Old Globe Theatre. Campbell cited economics: "We need a bigger venue for this type of opera, a 1,200-seat house downtown that is properly equipped for staging opera."

Campbell introduced this innovative series in the 1985-86 season, when he declared that the company's international series would be restricted to mainline operatic repertory. Underwritten by a two-year grant from the local Parker Foundation, the Old Globe series opened in May with a taut production of Peter Maxwell Davies' "The Lighthouse," a work that charmed critics but failed to woo a significant audience. The pair of Gian Carlo Menotti one-act operas scheduled for this May will be the series' swan song.

For 1987-88, Campbell has continued the popular recital series, also initiated last season. Appearing in solo recital will be San Diego-born soprano Carol Vaness (Nov. 16), Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Tatiana Troyanos (Jan. 25, 1988), and Swedish tenor Hakan Hagegard (Feb. 8, 1988). Each singer will appear at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art's Sherwood Auditorium, a new venue for San Diego Opera.

English baritone John Rawnsley will sing the title role of "Rigoletto" and Korean soprano Hei-Kyung Hong, who made a stunning local debut in the company's 1985 "La Boheme," will sing Gilda. American director Richard Tannenbaum will stage the work, and Edoardo Mueller will conduct the San Diego Opera Orchestra.

In "L'elisir," Australian soprano Glenys Folwes as Adina will sing opposite Hungarian tenor Denes Gulyas, who will make his San Diego debut as Nemorino. Willie Anthony Waters, artistic director of the Miami Opera, will conduct, and Lou Galterio will direct.

Gounod's "Faust," which was last produced here in 1981, will feature Richard Leech in the title role. The American tenor is singing the role of Pinkerton to critical acclaim in New York City Opera's production of "Madama Butterfly"--now playing at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

A co-production with Houston Grand Opera and Seattle Opera, this "Faust" will feature sets and costumes by noted Houston painter Earl Staley. In this most Romantic of French grand operas, soprano Diana Soviero will sing Marguerite opposite Leech's Faust, and Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto will return to sing Mephistopheles. Furlanetto sang the title role in San Diego Opera's revival of Verdi's first opera, "Oberto," in 1985. American Francesca Zembello will direct "Faust" while San Diego Opera associate conductor Karen Keltner will conduct.

"Il Trovatore," which Verdi wrote the same year he completed "Rigoletto," will complete San Diego's 1987-88 international series. Italian tenor Giuseppe Giacomini, who appeared intermittently in the title role of San Diego's February, 1986, production of Verdi's "Otello," will return to sing Manrico in "Il Trovatore."

Joining him will be soprano Susan Dunn as Leonora, Covent Garden baritone Jonathan Summers as Count di Luna, and mezzo soprano Dolora Zajic as Azucena, each in their San Diego debut. Richard Gregson, the English director who made his local debut with the 1984 "Peter Grimes" production, will direct "Il Trovatore," and American conductor Thomas Fulton, who will also conduct the company's Verdi "Requiem," will be on the podium.

Soloists for the "Requiem" include soprano Carol Neblett, Dolora Zajic, tenor Dennis O'Neill, and bass Jeffrey Wells. Wells will also appear as Ferrando in "Il Trovatore."

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