Placido Domingo and David Hockney are back--the former as (once again) both singer and conductor, the latter as designer of a lavish new Covent Garden "Die Frau ohne Schatten."
Film director and former choreographer Herbert Ross will make his debut as an opera director with "La Boheme" and the long-deferred "Rosenkavalier" is on the schedule at last (though the long-deferred "Aida" isn't).
So announced General Director Peter Hemmings in unveiling the eighth season of Music Center Opera at a press conference Tuesday in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
As previously reported, the controversial John Adams opera, "The Death of Klinghoffer," has been postponed for the second consecutive season--with no estimate given of when it might eventually be presented.
Hemmings cited financial constraints as the sole reason for the postponement, denying that charges of anti-Semitism that have followed "Klinghoffer" since its 1991 premiere--and led to one scene being deleted from the production--had any influence on the decision.
He called "Klinghoffer" potentially "the most expensive opera" of the season, partly due to a smaller number of performances scheduled and partly to the large chorus and dance company required.
Noting that Adams' "Nixon in China" did 72% of capacity in its 1990 Music Center performances, Hemmings said that average attendance was "82(%) to 83%" at Music Center Opera, with bread-and-butter repertory drawing audiences up to the low 90%.
Postponing "Klinghoffer" was "an agonizing choice," he said. "We had to do something drastic to (prevent losses that) would put the company's future in jeopardy."
The financial argument had been disputed last week, however, by "Klinghoffer" director Peter Sellars, who cited the small cast and the seven-way co-production, which already includes a $137,691 investment from Music Center Opera.
The postponement leaves the season without a single remotely contemporary work. Moreover, though a number of internationally celebrated singers are scheduled to appear, Hemmings defended the seeming absence of conductors of comparable renown.
Only seven operas will be presented in the 1993-94 season, one less than previously, though Hemmings said there will be the same number of performances, largely because of "a 15% increase in subscriptions last year." Music Center Opera has broken even for the last four years and has no accumulated deficit, he said.
He called Spanish composer Manuel Penella's 1916 "El Gato Montes" (to be produced in January, 1994) the "extreme rarity" of the season, insisting that the work belongs to the world of opera more than to the Spanish musical-theater form zarzuela .
Below is a listing of the productions scheduled. (Names separated by slashes indicate that those artists will alternate.)
"La Boheme" (Puccini): Sept. 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 23, 26. Conducted by Placido Domingo/Randall Behr, directed by Herbert Ross, designed by Gerard Howland (sets), Peter J. Hall (costumes), with Kallen Esperian, Catherine Naglestad, Craig Sirianni, Jeffrey Black, Richard Bernstein.
"Un Ballo in Maschera" (Verdi): Sept. 10, 11, 14, 16, 17, 19. Conducted by Richard Buckley, directed by Stephen Lawless, designed by Jurgen Rose, with Ealynn Voss/Leona Mitchell, Florence Quivar/Stefania Toczyska, Gwendolyn Bradley, Vyacheslav Polozov/Domingo, Donnie Ray Albert/Dmitri Kharitonov.
"Die Frau ohne Schatten" (R. Strauss): Oct. 31, Nov. 3, 6, 8, 10, 13. Conducted by Behr, directed by John Cox, designed by David Hockney (sets) and Ian Falconer (costumes), with Ellen Shade, Gwyneth Jones/Aleicia Byrnes-Harris, Jane Henschel, James O'Neal, Franz Grundheber.
"El Gato Montes" (Penella): Jan. 19, 20, 22, 23, 25, 29, 1994. Conducted by Behr, directed by Emilio Sagi, designed by Julio Galan, choreographed by Goyo Montero, with Veronica Villarroel/Paloma Perez-Inigi, Domingo/Antonio Ordonez, Justino Diaz, Suzanna Guzman.
"Madama Butterfly" (Puccini): Feb. 23, 26, 28, March 2, 5, 8, 1994. Conducted by Behr, production by Ian Judge restaged by Christopher Harlan, designed by John Gunter (sets), Liz da Costa (costumes), with Maria Ewing, Stephanie Vlahos, Marcus Haddock, John Atkins.
"Le Nozze di Figaro" (Mozart): April 12, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 1994. Conducted by Markus Stenz, production by Peter Hall, restaged by Stephen Lawless, designed by John Bury, with Angela Maria Blasi, Solveig Kringelborn, Paula Rasmussen, Gerald Finley/Bernstein, Thomas Allen.
"Der Rosenkavalier" (R. Strauss): May 29, June 1, 4, 7, 10, 12, 1994. Conducted by Jiri Kout, directed by Gotz Friedrich, designer to be announced, with Frederica von Stade, Karan Armstrong, Sumi Jo, Helmut Berger-Tuna, Jonathan Welch, Michael Gallup.