There aren't many organizations with ardor to equal that of the Music Center Opera League. Entrusted with the task of expanding the Los Angeles Music Center Opera's audience, league members act, according to President Joan Thompson, "like missionaries going out into the community telling everyone opera is here--and it's wonderful."
As with all missionaries, the league has to pass the plate for contributions (which go to the opera's general fund) and the league's "plate" is its annual raffle, the Loteria. This year the raffle is expected to bring in about $150,000 by the time it's over this summer.
Wednesday night the league thanked the businesses that had donated Loteria prizes, including a Mazda Miata and European vacations, with a lavish dinner in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion's El Dorado Room, followed by a dress rehearsal performance of Verdi's "Falstaff."
Among those on hand were Music Center Opera general director Peter Hemmings and his wife, Jane; raffle chairwoman Linda Cantwell; Opera Assn. board chairman Roy Ash and his wife, Lila; and Opera League founder Alice Coulombe and her husband, Joe, the Trader Joe's founder, who describes himself as a "modest zealot" for opera.
As with all missionaries, this dinner was more than just a thank-you, it was a way of seeking new converts by exposing them to what Alice Coulombe calls "this glorious sport." People "love opera because they can't help it," she explained. By the evening's end, the "sport" might have had a few new converts.