"Pavarotti's decision could be a guide to the future. I believe it is his positive intention to sing with the company and to direct in coming seasons," said Robert B. Driver, the opera company's general director.
"He knows his career will not go on forever, and directing could be something he is thinking about. We're taking this one step at a time."
Driver said the 56-year-old tenor had directed La Favorita in Venice and chose the piece for his American debut "because he felt comfortable with it." Pavarotti was rehearsing with the Vienna State Opera yesterday and was not available for comment.
He became allied with the Opera Company of Philadelphia in 1980 when the competition bearing his name was organized. After the first contest, in 1981, he sang in a televised OCP production of La Boheme in 1982 that won an Emmy Award and at the time was the most-watched televised opera. In the two subsequent competitions, in 1985 and '88, he came to Philadelphia in the fall to listen to finalists and choose winners and returned the following spring to sing with the winners in an OCP production.
In 1989, he sang in the OCP production of Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore in a hastily improvised performance at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul after the Academy of Music had been closed because of split ceiling beams. The performances of Un ballo in maschera, in which he sang later that spring, were produced in the Shubert Theater.
The judges for the fourth competition have chosen 120 semifinalists. They will sing in finals Oct. 26 to Nov. 1 attended by Pavarotti. Winners will be announced Nov. 1 at a concert in the Academy of Music.
The opera company will present four productions next season, an expansion
from this year's three. Each opera will have four performances, compared with the three offered this season.
The company will open with Bizet's Carmen, Nov. 9 to 19. The to-be- announced production with the competition winners and Pavarotti will run Feb. 8, 12, 15 and 18, and La Favorita March 1, 4, 5 and 7. The concluding production will be Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, April 16 to 25.
The featured singers in Carmen will be Denyce Graves, a rising young singer who won the 1991 Marian Anderson Award, and tenor Vinson Cole, who trained at Curtis Institute of Music.
Baritone Gino Quilico, son of renowed baritone Louis Quilico, will sing the title role in Eugene Onegin. He sang the title role in Don Giovanni in an OCP production in 1987.