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DiChiera's Opera Pacific Resignation Imminent

September 19, 1996|CHRIS PASLES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

David DiChiera, general director of Opera Pacific since its inception in 1987, will step down as soon as a successor is named, an action expected soon.

According to a spokesperson for the company--which stages operas mostly from the standard repertoire, at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa--three candidates have been interviewed, and a front-runner is expected to emerge after a board meeting tonight.

The board also is expected to announce a restructuring of the company, with DiChiera, 61, staying on in some advisory capacity, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said DiChiera will concentrate on running the Michigan Opera Theater, which he founded in 1971 in Detroit. DiChiera had overseen a third company, Dayton Opera in Ohio, since 1981, but in 1991 he decided to focus on the other two.

Now, he said Wednesday, "With the [April] opening of the new Detroit Opera House, I'm taking on [new] responsibility. There are more than 200 performances [a season] there. It's becoming a major catalyst in the rehabilitation of the city itself. That is such a major challenge; it's not something that I can walk away from.

At the same time, he said, "I didn't want [Opera Pacific] to suffer because of having less of my time than it should have."

Opera Pacific has an annual budget of about $5 million and for most of its history has run in the black. But recently ticket sales have been slow, and the company is facing a deficit of about $700,000. Its new season begins Saturday at the Costa Mesa center with Puccini's "Turandot."

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