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Sounding Off on the Opera

March 12, 1988

Regarding Martin Bernheimer's review of Opera Pacific's "Die Fledermaus" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center (Calendar, Feb. 29):

Your main complaint seems to be the electronic amplification of the sound. You say the show would have been "bearable if Strauss' magical score had been permitted to soar and shimmer in a natural acoustical setting." I submit to you that if the powers that be had not opted for electronic amplification, fully one half of the audience would not have heard a note--spoken or sung.

I wonder if you have ever sat in Tier 3 for an entire performance. Without electronic help, it's totally impossible to hear the spoken word and halfway impossible to hear the singing. I have tickets to every season offered by the Orange County Performing Arts Center (what can I say; we're music lovers!), and these seats are scattered throughout the center--from the back reaches of Tier 3 to the middle of the orchestra. No matter where we sit, we need the amplification. I would think the blame for this could be given to the architect, sound engineer, et al. They seem to reinvent the wheel each time a theater is built instead of asking advice of someone who knows about acoustics and such.

You closed your article referring to our "so-called opera season lumbering to a close in opulent and awesome Orange County." One opera a season does not make, and "Aida" was the only opera we've had this year. Opera is definitely not "Kismet" or "Die Fledermaus." When the powers that be finally bring a real opera season to Orange County and do something about the sound system, then we can call ourselves music lovers. It's a shame to finally have a large enough (I refuse to call that gray hulk beautiful) theater and then fill it with the likes of "Stop the World," "Kismet" and Doc Severinsen.

In closing, I would like to ask you what you think of the "flea market booth" at the main entrance of the Center. That's a statement about cultureless, insular and avaricious Orange County that should boggle even your mind!

MARY H. PASCOE

Costa Mesa

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