By Lew Avera
Months ago I wrote about performing arts in San Clemente, the many events in town and the community desirability for a performing arts center. My Views covered drama, music, orchestra and dancing, realizing that we have the Cabrillo Theater for drama and a very accomplished high school orchestra program.
What has brought this back to life was a recent Opera Night performance at Casa Romantica by the South Orange County School of the Arts (SOCSA). Located at Dana Hills High School, the SOCSA opera program consists of some 40 high school students drawn from several high schools in Orange County and Oceanside, including several from San Clemente High School. Many of these students have performed nationally and have national reputations to their credit. This is an indication of how accomplished they are. They performed 30 operatic pieces from Mozart, Purcell, Handel, Britten, Bernstein, Puccini and Verdi, to name a few. The artistic director is Ray Woods, who lives in San Juan Capistrano, and, very notably, the Opera Night director is Linda Rose Linnebach, a resident of San Clemente and 1977 graduate of SCHS. Linda has performed opera all over the world and brings her experience, enthusiasm and leadership to our young people. Jeremy Wiggins, San Clemente High School Choir director, also works in vocal leadership of this group.
There was a wait list for the performance, with more than 100 attendees. Our own Ruth DeNault commented, “It was a stunning performance. I am so impressed by the talent and determination of our young people.” Berenika Schmitz, Casa Romantica executive director, said, “I loved the performance. I believe it is so important to support the efforts of our young people.”
Of course our own San Clemente High School has a nationally recognized dance program and superlative orchestra and choral programs. There are also a number of local private dance studios/schools. Many of our churches have accomplished choral programs devoted primarily to their church activities. One other significant and accomplished local music program is the San Clemente Choral Society (SCCS), which consists of some 50 men and women voices. Founded 12 years ago, SCCS performs two concerts a year, one in the spring and one at Christmas. Open to all and always seeking new members, SCCS’s next concert is one month away at 4 p.m. on April 30 at the San Clemente Presbyterian Church with vocal music from the “World of Dance.” Tickets are available online.
Finally, on the subject of performance venues, each of the above performs in different places, none of which are truly “performance” venues. The closest was one of SOCSA’s at Soka University in Aliso Viejo. As in previous Views, I have alluded to having such an ideal venue right here in San Clemente. The Miramar Theater would be the perfect venue, if the investment was made to rehabilitate it. If this could happen, not only would we be recognized for our programs, but also as a truly authentic location for world-class performing arts, the premier location in all of South Orange County.
Lew Avera is a retired career officer, Lt. Col., U.S. Marine Corps. He has been a director of the Talega HOA since 2003 and served on the San Clemente Planning Commission from 2005 to 2013.