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Finances in order, Long Beach Opera confidently plans its future

Futral in 'Orpheus and Euridice' and Von Stade in recital are among the '08 season attractions.

September 07, 2007|Chris Pasles | Times Staff Writer

After several years of financial struggle, Long Beach Opera finished its last season in the black and in its 2008 season will offer presentations featuring soprano Elizabeth Futral, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and actor Michael York.

"It took a while to clear out the debts I inherited," company general director Andreas Mitisek, who assumed his post in 2003, said this week. "Postponing Osvaldo Golijov's 'Ainadamar' last season was one of the steps we had to take in order to solidify our finances. I'm very happy to say we're in good shape and moving forward."

Next season's budget is about $725,000, Mitisek said, adding, "My aim is to get to $1 million within the next 1 1/2 years."

Futral will open the season in a newly commissioned version of Ricky Ian Gordon's 70-minute song cycle "Orpheus and Euridice," which was created for her and clarinetist Todd Palmer in 2002 and repeated at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York with Doug Varone and Dancers in 2005. The work was inspired by the death of Gordon's partner, Jeffrey Grossi.

Futral and Palmer will perform the new version, expanded for piano and strings, Feb. 17 to 19 at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach.

"I took the pool because for me it was symbolic of the River Styx -- crossing over to the underworld and the relationship between water and life," Mitisek said. "We will have floats and swimmers and aerialists, and both Elizabeth and Todd are prepared to get into the pool."

The season will continue March 16 to 18 with York as the speaker in staged versions of Richard Strauss' melodrama "Enoch Arden," based on Tennyson's poem, and "Frankenstein!!," H.K. Gruber's "pandemonium," after nursery rhymes tweaked by poet H.C. Artmann. The program, "Strauss Meets Frankenstein," will take place at the Center Theatre.

Von Stade will perform 20th century French and American songs May 9 at the Terrace Theatre in Long Beach.

The season will end with a repeat of Ani Maldjian in the title role of Grigori Frid's "The Diary of Anne Frank," staged, as it was in April, at the Sinai Temple parking garage in Los Angeles on June 4 and 5, 2008, and at the Lincoln Park garage in Long Beach on June 8.

"I've never seen so many people emotionally taken by something like that," Mitisek said. "People cry after 'Tosca' and 'Bohème,' but with the involvement of [Holocaust survivor] Laura Hillman in the story, it was just a very strong experience. We took it to Austin in mid-July, and next year we're taking it to Seattle in mid-April. There were a lot of people who wanted to see it.

"One of our thoughts is bringing something back that has proved a success. Other companies do that very often."

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