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New Glass Opera to Reopen Royce Hall

Arts: The composer's 'Monsters of Grace' is among the highlights of UCLA's 1997-98 performing arts schedule.

May 21, 1997|DANIEL CARIAGA | TIMES MUSIC WRITER

The reopening of Royce Hall next spring--which will be marked by the world premiere of a new opera, "Monsters of Grace," from director Robert Wilson and composer Philip Glass--highlights the 1997-98 season of the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts.

Announced Tuesday, the season schedule includes 144 performances of 70 events--up from 106 performances of 60 events in 1996-97--the most extensive offering in the center's 61-year history.

The events get underway in October at the off-campus Wiltern Theatre, with "Umabatha: the Zulu Macbeth," a South African version of the Shakespeare tragedy with Zulu text (and English supertitles), music, costumes and dance.

But by late spring, the center's home venue--Royce Hall--out of commission since the 1994 Northridge earthquake, will be back in the spotlight. The 1,828-seat theater in the hall, built in 1929, will reopen with historically renovated public spaces, technical improvements in acoustics and stage machinery, and a complete seismic retrofit. Cost of the total renovation is put at $68.3 million, to be paid for with a combination of Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, state matching funds and private donations.

To commemorate the reopening, UCLA will present the latest collaboration between Wilson and Glass, whose first joint effort, the groundbreaking opera "Einstein on the Beach," was produced in 1976. Opening April 15, "Monsters of Grace" will offer "pictures to hear," in Wilson's words. Its working libretto is taken from the poems of a 13th century Sufi mystic; the staging will make use of "cutting-edge technology."

"We've been working on this piece over two years," Glass said Monday of the still-in-progress project. "The conceptual part is done. What remains is putting all the parts together. Image and music and structure are at the root of what we are thinking. We're addressing the challenge of a new technology and its impact on a developing artistic view."

In addition to the "Monsters" world premiere, UCLA will present a number of Los Angeles or West Coast premieres. Richard Foreman, founder of New York's Ontological Hysteric Theater, will perform "Pearls for Pigs." The Bill T. Jones-Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, dancer-choreographer Daniel Ezralow and the Lyons Opera Ballet will also unveil new works.

Collaborative premieres include "River," matching the Kronos Quartet and Japanese movement artists Eiko & Koma, and another Glass work, the third installment of his Cocteau series, "Les Enfants Terribles," with choreographer Susan Marshall. Wynton Marsalis, with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, will premiere his composition based on Stravinsky's "L'Histoire du Soldat." West Coast debuts include British dance-theater troupe DV8 Physical Theatre and the Russian chant ensemble Arte Corale.

Superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma will appear in two programs--a tribute to Astor Piazzolla, with a nine-piece tango orchestra, and, over two evenings, the complete Bach solo cello suites. James Levine will bring the MET Orchestra from the Metropolitan Opera, with guest soloist Maxim Vengerov (the first orchestral presentation at Royce), and the Bartok Quartet from Budapest will present a complete Bartok cycle.

"Barefoot Diva" Cesaria Evora and the dance spectacle "Tap Dogs" both return after sold-out engagements in the 1996-97 season. Jazz offerings include the T.S. Monk sextet in a Thelonious Monk tribute.

Among new subscription series: a Cabaret grouping, featuring Kitty Carlisle Hart, and Artists With Out Limits (A.W.O.L.), which spotlights such performers as solo showman Danny Hoch and the Thang Long Water Puppet Theater of Vietnam.

* For a season brochure, call (310) 825-2101.

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