There are lots of music and dance events to sort through to make a list of recommendations for 1988. The following is a highly personal choice, certain not to satisfy everyone. Not all items are necessarily endorsed with expectations of the highest artistic quality. Effort, intention, adventure, idiosyncrasy all play a part in assembling this list.
For the opera buff: a dreary outlook. Verdi's "Aida" by Opera Pacific, Jan. 16-29 at the Performing Arts Center, is the only real grand opera--all singing, no speaking--looming on the local horizon and so takes center stage by default. Forget the hype and the purple-prose come-ons, though. This is one of Verdi's great achievements. "Celeste Aida"?
For the lover of symphonic music: Three events from the Orange County Philharmonic Society's roster:
--Charles Dutoit will lead the Pittsburgh Symphony on March 2.
--Simon Rattle will conduct the City of Birmingham Symphony on March 29.
--Soprano Montserrat Caballe will sing a program of operatic arias with the Master Chorale of Orange County, the Pacific Chorale and a still-to-be announced orchestra on May 26.
But who will take the place of the originally announced Royal Philharmonic on Jan. 17? Stay tuned.
For the I-love-Orange-County-groups, no-matter-what-anyone-says fans:
--Interim guest conductor William Hall will lead the Master Chorale of Orange County in Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis" March 20 at Segerstrom Hall. Hall recently led a revitalized Master Chorale in a musically splendid Christmas program, so it will be exciting to hear this talented conductor approach Beethoven's mighty score.
--Conductor Keith Clark and the Pacific Symphony will tackle Schoenberg's monumental "Gurre-Lieder" at Segerstrom Hall on May 19 and 20. This grand, expressive ode to late romanticism makes fiendish demands on its large body of instrumental and vocal forces but reveals a melodic and dramatic side of Schoenberg that may surprise many who associate him only with his later non-tonal theories.
For those who can appreciate the smaller sounds:
--The Emerson Quartet will appear with violinist Oscar Shumsky and pianist Menahem Pressler Feb. 21 as part of the Laguna Beach Chamber Music Society series. This should be exquisite.
For balletomanes: Hang on! Several imported full-length story ballets are on the way.
--The National Ballet of Canada will present Glen Tetley's version of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and John Cranko's version of Pushkin's "Eugene Onegin" June 7-12 at the Performing Arts Center. Tetley's "Alice" is set to a score by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici. Cranko's "Eugene Onegin" uses an assembled score of Tchaikovsky's music.
--The Paris Opera Ballet will dance Rudolf Nureyev's controversial interpretation of "Cinderella" June 14-19. Nureyev, who is director of the Paris company, places the action in 1930s Hollywood and turns the prince into a leading man in search of a new leading lady. Nureyev is scheduled to dance some performances as the producer, the counterpart of the fairy godmother. Music is by Prokofiev.
Finally, the Joffrey Ballet will return to the Performing Arts Center on Sept. 21-27. Repertory will be announced at a later date. Dare we hope to see the recent reconstruction of Nijinsky's "Rite of Spring"?