Pacific Symphony announces new season lineup, opera initiative

The orchestra heads into its 33rd year hoping to fill a musical gap left by the 2008 closing of Opera Pacific.

February 07, 2011|By Bradley Zint,
  • Music Director Carl St.Clair, left, listens to the opera duet of Shana Blake Hill and Omar Crook.
Music Director Carl St.Clair, left, listens to the opera… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

COSTA MESA — Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 is a memorable one for Carl St.Clair. He first saw it played on a 1948 black-and-white Westinghouse television.

The orchestra: the Boston Symphony. The conductor: Leonard Bernstein.

Some years later, things came musically full circle. Again, the piece was Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5.

The orchestra: the Boston Symphony. The conductor: Carl St.Clair.

St.Clair, who's approaching his 22nd season as music director of the Pacific Symphony, recalled the anecdote at a conference Monday morning before about 175 attendees in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. He and other symphony officials previewed the Costa Mesa-based orchestra's 2011-12 classical season.

But of the many notes to be played, St.Clair said that Tchaikovsky symphony scheduled for Jan. 12-14, 2012, will be among his most personal. It was the piece he — a young musician from a farm in small-town Hochheim, Texas — ended his four-year tenure with as Boston's assistant conductor.


"This piece has such a deep place in my heart," he said. "Because that TV show basically showed me the next 20 years of my life … to bring this to you, with all of this history that the musicians and I have with the work, is going to be very, very special."

Also special is the Pacific Symphony's "Symphonic Voices" — an effort to fill the gap of performing local opera after the county's only major company, Opera Pacific, closed in 2008 due to financial difficulties.

"You deserve to hear [opera]," St.Clair said. "This is a rich repertoire. This is incredibly emotionally packed music that talks about life and everyday situations — the same ones you deal with … we're going to do what we can to reignite, rejuvenate opera as part of our life."

The three-year initiative begins with a "semi-staged," three-night production led by A. Scott Parry of Puccini's "La Bohéme" on April 19-21, 2012. Also scheduled are kid-friendly performances of Englebert Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" opera, high-definition broadcasts of New York City's Metropolitan Opera and outings to major opera houses.

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