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League to Underwrite 1998 'Flute'

March 23, 1997|Daniel Cariaga | Daniel Cariaga is The Times' music writer

For the first time in its 13-year history, the Los Angeles Opera League--the volunteer fund-raising and support group for L.A. Opera--will underwrite a company production: the revival, next February, of the company's 1992 production of Mozart's "The Magic Flute." The cost: $100,000.

The 3,000-member league is made up of opera lovers whose membership fees, donations and fund-raising work support the opera in a number of ways. It underwrites admission-free performances for schoolchildren and public lectures before each production. It feeds the entire opera cast during tech and dress rehearsals and provides transportation and hospitality for cast members through each production. It publishes the L.A. Opera newsletter and it also raises $100,000 to $150,000 for the company annually.

The added goal of backing "The Magic Flute," says Toni Bird, former president of the league and now its chair for the "Flute" campaign, is "frightening."

"It's a lot of fund-raising," she says. "Who, after all, likes to ask people for money? But we have a great cause, and we will get it done."

After a single mailing last month to opera subscribers and league members, Bird reports an initial $20,500 from 132 donors. The final deadline for the total amount is opening night, Feb. 13, but a first installment of, Bird hopes, half the amount will be handed over to the company by the start of the season, in September.

The next stage of the campaign begins in May, when the league will send out 10,000 requests to individuals, followed up by personal calls from league members. This is the core, and the hardest part of the campaign, Bird explains: reaching those who have not already given money to the opera company.

Corporations and large organizations are not being approached for this effort, she says--"though, of course, we will be happy to receive anything they may want to contribute."

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MORE OPERA NEWS: Ward Holmquist, music director and conductor of USC Opera, will succeed Russell Patterson, the artistic director and one of the founders of Lyric Opera of Kansas City, when Patterson retires in July 1998. . . . Renee Fleming will sing the role of Blanche du Bois at the premiere of Andre Previn's new "A Streetcar Named Desire," scheduled for Sept. 25, 1998, in War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. Rodney Gilfry and Elizabeth Futral have been cast as Stanley and Stella. . . . Thursday is the deadline for applications to the 1997 National Vocal Competition for Young Opera Singers, sponsored for the 25th year by the Loren L. Zachary Society. Requests for applications should contain a business-size, self-addressed, stamped envelope and should be sent to Zachary Society, 2250 Gloaming Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

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