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Opera Pacific Goes With Sure Bets : Music: General director David DiChiera says the company is 'aiming at 90%-plus attendance' in '94-95 with such reliables as 'Traviata' and 'Butterfly.'

March 09, 1994|CHRIS PASLES

In an express effort to maximize box office, Opera Pacific has picked four warhorses for its 1994-95 season--Verdi's "Aida" and "La Traviata," Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" and Mozart's "The Magic Flute."

"We are clearly aiming at 90%-plus attendance," general director David DiChiera said Tuesday. "This season--'Die Walkure,' 'Faust' and 'Lucia'--the percentage of house was not among our highest. It's going to be around 80%--but that 10% difference between 80% and 90% is very critical in terms of our earned income."

DiChiera estimated the 1994-95 budget to be $5.7 million.

"Casting is my focus next year," DiChiera said. "It's with artists who are particularly interesting and controversial and intriguing and will make singing even very well-known operas interesting and exciting. (Soprano) Tiziana Fabbricini, for instance, is going to create a great deal of interest."

Fabbricini, one of two Violettas scheduled for "Traviata," generated huge controversy in the role when she sang it at La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Vienna Staatsoper and the Berlin Opera. Critics and audiences were divided over her intense acting and, some said, erratic vocal production.

Opera Pacific has presented all three of the Italian operas before, but the productions next season will be different. "Aida" was created for the San Francisco Opera in 1981 by Douglas Schmidt and Lawrence Casey.

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The production of "La Traviata" is new and was created for the Lyric Opera of Chicago by Desmond Heeley; it will be seen for the first time on the West Coast. "Butterfly" will be a new production by Opera Pacific.

" 'Butterfly' continues to come at the top of our request list," DiChiera said. "It amazes me the public response that 'Butterfly' gets."

The sets and costumes for "The Magic Flute" were created by David Hockney for the Glydebourne Festival in England and presented by the San Francisco Opera in 1987. They will be seen for the first time in Southern California.

The company also announced that its 1995-96 season will include Verdi's "Otello" with Vladimir Atlantov and Bizet's "Carmen."

OPERA PACIFIC

The '94-95 Season:

* Oct. 1-8: Verdi's "Aida": Conducted by John DeMain; director to be named; sets and costumes designed by Douglas Schimdt and Lawrence Casey, with Elena Filipova/Camellia Johnson (Aida), Lando Bartolini/Vladimir Popov (Radames), Tichina Vaughn/Eugenie Grunewald (Amneris), Robert McFarland (Amonasro), Kevin Bell (High Priest).

* Jan. 21-29: Verdi's "La Traviata": Conducted by Steven Mercurio; director to be named; sets and costumes by Desmond Heeley, with Tiziana Fabbricini/Gwynne Geyer (Violetta), Roberto Aronica/Vladimir Grishko (Alfredo), Hijing Fu (Giorgio Germont).

* March 4-25: Puccini's "Madama Butterfly": Conductor, director and production to be announced, with Ai-Lan Zhu/soprano to be announced (Cio-Cio San); others to be announced.

* March 11-26: Mozart's "The Magic Flute" (in English): Conductor to be named; directed by Jay Lesenger; sets and costumes by David Hockney, with Janet Williams (Pamina), Paul Austin Kelly (Tamino), Thomas Barrett (Papageno), Anna Vikre (Queen of the Night), Kevin Bell (Sarastro); others to be announced.

All productions will be at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Subscription tickets, on sale today , will range from $52 to $300. Tickets to individual operas: $18 to $85. (714) 979-9000.

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