Funding a recording of Wagner

All it takes to get in the door is a “suggested donation” of $50. But the creative forces behind an upcoming recording of Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” -- by American singers at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria -- hope that attendees at a fundraising reception this afternoon will be inspired to donate much more to the project.

“Tristan” Marc Deaton and “Isolde” Susan Marie Pierson will provide sample performances along with the cocktails at today’s affair, to be held at a private home in Altadena.

“It’s really after the singers sing, and we make our plea, that the big money comes in,” says project spokesman John M. Johmann.

One usually associates opera donors with productions by established companies. But Shotgun Productions -- which is producing the “Tristan” CD for Titanic Records with a professional cast assembled through personal connections -- is banking that corporate and private donors in Los Angeles will step in to help them raise the remainder of the $100,000 needed to pay for the Feb. 8 recording session with the Bulgarian Festival Orchestra. Producers say that similar fundraisers in New York and Maryland have already netted more than $75,000.


An L.A. donor already committed to the project is retired ophthalmologist Sherwin Sloan, chairman of the Los Angeles Wagner Society and a member of the board of directors at Los Angeles Opera.

One reason for his participation, Sloan says, is that recordings of Wagner’s epic operas are becoming increasingly rare. “They exist, but a lot are from the past. It’s not like the ‘Traviatas’ and ‘Bohemes’ that come out all the time.”

Documentary filmmaker Brent Sterling has been tracking the production process and plans to film the performance in Bulgaria.

Today’s 2-5 p.m. fundraiser is open to the public. Call (323) 684-3306 or (917) 476-7897 for further information.

-- Diane Haithman