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Opera Pacific Sets Plans for 1994-95 Season : Music: The company schedules new productions of four warhorses and eyes 'controversial' casts to create interest.


COSTA MESA — 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. 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. The "Aida" was created for San Francisco Opera in 1981 by Douglas Schmidt and Lawrence Casey. The production of "La Traviata" 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 enlarged for San Francisco Opera in 1987. They will be seen for the first time on a Southern California stage. The opera will be sung in English translation.

The company also announced that its 1995-96 season will include Verdi's "Otello" with Russian tenor Vladimir Atlantov in the title role, and Bizet's "Carmen."

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