For those looking to expand their knowledge of music, 1994 isn't shaping up as a terribly promising year. Concert programs by the county's major organizations, with a bare few exceptions, consist mostly of meat-and-potatoes repertory. People must turn to the less-well-heeled local groups and the dance world for expanding their horizons.
Still, none of the local groups has announced 1994-95 seasons yet, so some surprises and risks may lie ahead.
The Pacific Symphony will play Beethoven's Fifth (Feb. 2, 3), Brahms' Fourth (April 6, 7), Mahler's "Resurrection" (May 18, 19) and Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" (June 1, 2) at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Not much audience risk here.
Among newer works, the orchestra will offer John Corigliano's Piano Concerto and Pacific composer-in-residence Frank Ticheli's "Postcard" (both Feb. 2, 3) and Ticheli's "Radiant Voices" (March 24, 25).
The visiting Dresden Philharmonic will play Beethoven's Triple concerto and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2 on Jan. 25 at the center, courtesy of the Orange County Philharmonic Society.
Other Philharmonic Society-sponsored visiting orchestras include the State Symphony of Russia (Feb. 6), the Orchestre National de France (Feb. 27), the Los Angeles Philharmonic (April 16) and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (April 30).
Again, the repertory is pretty standard, but the L.A. Chamber Orchestra program will include the world premiere of a work by Joan Tower.
Opera Pacific is venturing out on a limb by offering Wagner's "Die Walkure" (March 4-20). This is its first effort in seven years at demanding, heavyweight Germanic repertory. Is Opera Pacific, for all its pretensions at offering "world-class" opera, ready for the challenge?
The rest of the Opera Pacific season includes Franz Lehar's "The Merry Widow" (Jan. 21-30) and Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" (March 9-19). Lots of hummable tunes here.
There may be cause for special concern, however, if what is past is prologue, as Shakespeare wrote in "The Tempest."
Who would have predicted Opera Pacific's half-naked flagellants during the Overture to Mozart's "Don Giovanni" in 1990, the general raunch-and-grope in Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro" last year, or the public rutting during the buoyant Act I Waltz of Gounod's "Faust," also presented last year?
Who knows what Lolo, Dodo, Clo-Clo and the other girls at Lehar's Maxim's might be wearing this time out. . . . Will there be bare-breasted Valkyries with naked corpses slung across their horses in the famous Ride? Will Lucia do a striptease during her Mad Scene?
Some comparison shopping:
The Los Angeles Music Center Opera will rehearse and then offer a one-day performance, Jan. 15, of Manuel Penella's "El Gato Montes" at the center before moving the production to Los Angeles for a Jan. 19-29 engagement. The program here, a benefit for Opera Pacific, qualifies Orange County as getting the West Coast premiere.
Technically, the work is a \o7 zarzuela, \f7 which is a Spanish musical-theater form, rather than an opera. The cast will include Placido Domingo, Justino Diaz and Veronica Villarroel. Look for credible acting and tight ensemble work--qualities that are rarely present in local operatic efforts.
The more venturesome repertory is being offered by groups that are continuing to fight financial battles. William Hall will lead the Master Chorale of Orange County in Rachmaninoff's Vespers on Feb. 13 at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach.
John Alexander will conduct the Pacific Chorale in works by French composers on April 23 (Shakespeare's birthday) at the Performing Arts Center. The program will include the lovely "Cantique de Jean Racine," written by Gabriel Faure when he was 20.
Contemporary chamber music remains largely the preserve of the Southwest Chamber Music Society, which plays a series of works by Elliott Carter and Mozart on Sunday and Jan. 23 at Chapman University in Orange. Other composers are included in programs on Feb. 20, March 27, April 17 and June 18.
The series co-sponsored by the Laguna Chamber Music Society and the Philharmonic Society resumes operations with the Borodin String Quartet on Jan. 15 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Groups to follow include the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio (Feb. 1), the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (March 23) and violinist Cho-Liang Lin and pianist Andre-Michel Schub (May 7).
The Founders Hall chamber-music series at the center continues with the Quartet Sine Nomine (Feb. 16) and the Angeles String Quartet (April 14).
Corey Cerovsek, the bi-talented artist from Austria via Canada, will again play both a violin and a piano concerto with Ami Porat and the Mozart Camerata on Jan. 16 at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach. Cerovsek will be soloist in the Violin Concerto No. 4 and the Piano Concerto No. 21. The season will continue on April 10 and May 15.