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Music Center Opera

May 08, 1988

In response to Jerry Falkenhagen's letter (Calendar Letters, May 1), I must disagree with his perspective on what kind of opera company we are attempting to build for Los Angeles. No one here has a desire to program only the "rare and unusual" and "force it down" Los Angeles' throat.

To his claim that the upcoming season has only one opera from the standard repertory, may I suggest that Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffmann," Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte," Verdi's "Otello" and Strauss' "Salome" are all core works of the standard repertory.

As for the other four operas to be performed--Berg's "Wozzeck" (which the writer deemed "interesting") we happily inherited from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which had previously planned it; Rossini's "Tancredi," though rare, is a marvelous vehicle for Marilyn Horne's first local operatic outing in more than 20 years; Janacek's "Katya Kabanova" is a lovely work, as lyrical and moving as any Puccini, which has sold out performances in Chicago and San Francisco in recent years; and "Orpheus in the Underworld," with its famous can-can, has been a popular hit for a century.

I hardly think this is a plan which will "endanger this youthful company."

In fact, the Los Angeles audiences seem to like our recipe. While the subscription campaign for the next season has barely begun, we had more subscribers in the second season than in the first.

"The Fiery Angel," our real rarity this past season, played to 81% capacity--both the Metropolitan and San Francisco regard 75% capacity as a good norm for an unknown modern work. Our overall attendance in the second season was 91%. We are quite happy with those statistics.

Los Angeles is the international city of the 1980s where the best of the traditional is happily at home alongside the most exciting of the new. Sophisticated Los Angelenos expect this diversity as part of the cultural offerings that have built the city's international reputation as an arts center.

We intend very much to be part of this spirit and offer our audience a rich blend of all that opera has to offer. And we are confident that the audience will respond with enthusiasm.

PETER HEMMINGS

General Director

Music Center Opera Assn.

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