After 2 1/2 years as general director of San Diego Opera, Ian Campbell knows what his audience wants--the old reliables.
In discussing the recently announced 1986-87 season (which opens in October with "Tosca," followed by "Norma," "Fliegende Hollaender," "Barbiere di Siviglia" and a Menotti double-bill of "The Medium" and "The Telephone"), he readily agreed with the suggestion that operatic adventure is missing from the repertory.
"The lineup of standard works is deliberate," he said. "All opera audiences are basically conservative. Oh, there may be small pockets (of adventurous opera-goers) here and there, but still, even after 25 years, the opera crowds here are relatively inexperienced." Campbell insisted that those "small pockets" are encouraged to visit the opera--but in a separate hall. "We extract the unusual and do them in the Globe Theatre," he noted, a reference to the Menotti evening in 1987 and Peter Maxwell Davies' "The Lighthouse," scheduled for this season (May).
The advance sales for Davies' work--far more "unusual" than the Menotti offerings--has encouraged Campbell. " 'The Lighthouse' has already sold 60% in subscriptions (in a 300-seat house). I figure about one in four subscribers from the Civic Theatre season will go to the Globe."
Segmenting his audience doesn't seem to faze him. "It doesn't cost us," he said. "And it will eventually lead to diverse audiences."
Campbell is interested not only in audiences diverse in taste, but in age. That's why he created the San Diego Ensemble, he explained. "It's an outreach ensemble of about six or seven singers from the area. Their job is to bring the highest quality opera to the schools. The first year, they'll be doing (Donizetti's) 'Don Pasquale.' We're targeting the junior and senior high schools, but we'll go anywhere--senior citizen centers, libraries, whatever."
Of the 1986-87 Civic Theatre season, Campbell apologizes that only one production--"Hollaender"--will be new. "Ideally, every production would be new. But costs prevent that. With 'Hollaender,' the cost is actually modest, around $90,000."
Campbell's motivation for mounting a new "Hollaender" is simple: "I couldn't find a physical production I wanted to do." And the look of the production? "It's the sort of opera you can really abstract," he responded. "I'm not sure which way this will end up, though I thought of setting the whole thing on a crazy mystery vessel."
PHILHARMONIC AND LISZT: In terms of composer anniversaries, last year was one for the books--it was the Berg Centennial, the Bach-Handel-Scarlatti Tricentennial and the Schuetz Quadricentennial. But what of 1986?
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Furtwaengler's birth and the 200th for Weber. And exactly 100 years ago this July 31, Franz Liszt died. The Philharmonic is currently in the midst of a two-week remembrance of the Liszt anniversary, with Andre Previn and Andre Watts on hand to honor the composer with the second program of works for piano and orchestra.
Wednesday through Friday, and again next Sunday afternoon, Watts will be soloist in the rarely heard "Malediction" for piano and strings (finally published in the early 1900s) and the Concerto No. 2. Previn will also conduct two English orchestral staples: Vaughan Williams' "Thomas Tallis" Fantasia and Elgar's "Enigma" Variations.
The orchestra's new music director, incidentally, will wear a couple of new Philharmonic coats this year--as chamber music player and as composer--when the Los Angeles Philharmonic Chamber Music Society presents a three-concert series at Gindi Auditorium. On Saturday, Previn will appear as pianist in Mendelssohn's D-minor Trio, joined by violinist Alexander Treger and cellist Daniel Rothmuller (music by Mozart and Barber are also scheduled). And Previn as composer? The concluding Chamber Music Society event (on May 7) will include a performance of his "Four Outings" for brass, as well as works by Poulenc and John Harbison. A program of sonatas by Brahms, Prokofiev, Debussy and Beethoven rounds out the series on March 17.
FLEISCHMANN, CONTINUED: In the midst of Philharmonic Executive Director Ernest Fleischmann's recent goings (to Paris Opera) and comings (back to the Philharmonic), one wonders what the French thought of all this.
Questioned by Alice Sedar of The Times' Paris bureau, Le Monde opera critic Jacques Lonchampt suggested that "pressure from the Los Angeles Philharmonic" forced Fleischmann to remain in California. Fleischmann, Lonchampt noted, "had time during his recent visit to evaluate the problems clearly," despite the Philharmonic official's insistence that, after his Paris meetings, he "hadn't had time for second thoughts."
An official from the Ministry of Culture merely expressed regret. And the Paris papers? Curiously, Le Figaro printed only two paragraphs announcing Fleischmann's appointment, then ran only one, after he changed his mind, theorizing that the delay in the official confirmation by the French government caused him to draw "conclusions from this silence."
PEOPLE: Sir Charles Groves will serve as artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute this summer at Hollywood Bowl. Leonard Bernstein and Michael Tilson Thomas have been named honorary directors. According to a spokeswoman at the Philharmonic, "honorary director" is merely a title given "in recognition of past service." While neither conductor will be here next summer (see next item), both have indicated that they will be available for telephone consultation, she explained.
Tilson Thomas will serve as artistic director of another summer institute--this one at Great Woods in Norton, Mass., summer home of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Jeffrey Babcock has been named executive director of the institute. Babcock was administrator of the Philharmonic Institute here during its first four years, after serving as executive director of the Young Musicians Foundation.
Raymond Cho, conductor of the locally based Korean Philharmonic, recently conducted two concerts in Shanghai, China. Cho led the Shanghai Combined Symphony in Rossini, Tchaikovsky and the team of He Zhang-hao and Chen Gang, composers of "The Butterfly Lover" Violin Concerto. "The players there," Cho said, "are doing very well. They rehearse every day for three hours. And all the instruments in the orchestra were made in China." Cho hoped to return there this year. "They all tell me I am between the East and West," he said with a chuckle.
Soprano Anna Case, who sang Sophie in the American premiere of "Der Rosenkavalier" at the Met in 1913, died in January, 1984, at age 95. At a recent unveiling of the singer's portrait, Met President and General Manager Designate Bruce Crawford announced a gift to the opera company from her estate in the sum of $1.2 million.