PRIVATE DONORS have just matched a $17,500 challenge grant from the Margaret Craig Weaver Foundation to help finance the Baltimore Opera Company's next production, a vocal and orchestral Wagner concert opening Friday, Nov. 30, at The Lyric.
The New Jersey foundation is named for the mother of a Baltimore Opera board member, James S. Weaver Jr. The late Margaret Craig Weaver was a 50-year season ticket holder at the Metropolitan Opera.
The matching funds, bringing the total gift to $35,000, were donated by Dr. and Mrs. George Alderman, Black and Decker, Charles A. Conklin III, Martha and Howard Head Foundation, Carl and Barbara Hecht, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Mangione, Robert Pomory, Ms. E. Meredith Reid, Nancy and John Sasser, Ms. Katherine Strakes, Ms. Alfred C. Ver Valen and Mr. and Mrs. James Vitale.
The opera company's Wagner concert will cost about $215,000, replacing the originally scheduled $500,000-plus "Tristan und Isolde." The switch was made last spring because of the company's severe financial problems, described by officials later as not raising enough private money to back desired production quality and by others as spending more than was prudent.
The company had no further word on its current effort to seek more than $1 million by next June from foundations and other private sources to save the company from bankruptcy, but Michael Harrison, the general director, remained optimistic.
Ticket sales remain steady. The company has sold 7,000 tickets for the Wagner concert and expects to sell its budgeted 13,000 more for the four performances. After opening night, the Wagner dates are 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, and 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 8. The company raised $80,000 at its annual grand ball, $8,000 more than last year. The annual fund drive has been running 25 percent ahead of last year.
"We still have an incredibly solid ticket base of loyal supporters," Patricia A. Kramer, director of marketing and public relations, said yesterday. "We expect to raise $1,176,000 in actual ticket sales this year. Our earned income of 53 percent of total income is way above other companies."
Singers for the Wagner concert include soprano Judith Telep-Ehrlich, singing Isolde in the "Liebesnacht" (Love Night) and "Liebestod" (Love Death) scenes from "Tristan und Isolde" and tenor George Gray returning here to sing Tristan. Bass-baritone Edward Crafts, bass Jerome Hines and mezzo sopranos Sondra Kelly and Susan Shafer will also sing.
Vienna-born and trained Alexander Sander, a widely recognized Wagnerian specialist, will conduct the Baltimore Opera Orchestra. Sander conducted last season's "Salome."
The program of half orchestral, half vocal music is in this order:
First half: From "Die Meistersinger," the Prelude; From "Die Walkure," "Wintersturme," "Siegmund's Spring Song" sung by Gray, "The Ride of the Valkyries," "Wotan's Farewell and Magic Fire Music" with Hines singing, and, from "Gotterdammerung," Telep-Ehrlich singing "Brunnhilde's Immolation Scene."
Second Half: From "Die Fliegende Hollander," the Prelude; from "Tannhauser," Crafts singing "Song to the Evening Star"; from "Tristan," the Prelude and "Liebesnacht" with Kelly and Shafer joining Telep-Ehrlich and Gray; from "Wesendonck Lieder," Kelly and Shafer singing "Dreams" and, finally, the "Liebestod" from "Tristan."
For information and reservations, call 727-0592. For tickets, visit the lobby box office of Professional Arts Building (formerly Medical Arts), 101 West Read St., or call 685-0692.