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A Salute to the Belles at a Ball Gown Gala


Los Angeles Music Center Opera's fall Season Opening Night Gala on Sept. 4 in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center already has socialites screening the new ball gowns.

Neiman Marcus recently saluted the 22 women who have chaired the benefit galas since the opera company was founded 10 years ago. More than 100 gowns premiered down the runway for an appreciative crowd of best-dressed. Black, sleek, trailing trains, volumes of lace and glitter reveal that opening night will be stunning.

Gala benefit chairs looking on: Hannah Carter, Tara Colburn, Jennifer Diener, Peggy Parker Grauman, Carol Henry, Linda May, Veronica Pastel, Eileen Read, Joyce Rosenblum, Nancy Vreeland, Jacqueline Brandwynne, Alicia Clark and Joan Thompson. In fact, amid giggles and applause, Diener, Henry, May, Pastel, Rosenblum and Thompson sashayed down the ramp, too, in their personal NM fashion choices.

Six days later Saks Fifth Avenue presented its SFA 1996 Opera Collection fashion show for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Costume Council. A turn-away crowd of 800 wedged into the Bing auditorium couldn't get enough glamour. Again, sleek and black. Later, it was "let's do tea" in the museum atrium, a danger zone of munchies for those who must stay slim enough for those elegant fall evenings.

Melodic Memories: Once in a blue moon, there's a blue moon. How wonderful for "The Magic of Mancini" gala celebrating the 75th anniversary season of the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday evening. As Andy Williams sang "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Moon River" with Jack Elliott conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a blue moon shone through the tall pines.

"I feel like a yo-yo, both happy and sad," said Mancini's widow, Ginny.

Peter Nero, Bill Conti, Mark Watters, Scott Lavender, Ian Fraser and Quincy Jones joined Elliott as conductors. Nero began with Mancini's "Overture to a Pops Concert" and "Two for the Road," the Mancini family's favorite.

The audience swayed to Trisha Yearwood's emotional "Dear Heart." They tapped to "Baby Elephant Walk," "Strings on Fire," "The Pink Panther" and "Peter Gunn."

When daughter Monica Mancini sang "Le Jazz Hot" from "Victor/Victoria," Williams said, "You don't think Hank is proud of her!" Her twin, Felicia, sat in a garden box with Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio) and his wife, Annie.

Eleven thousand roses rimmed the Bowl boxes and were inserted in the Bowl hedges by 300 volunteers. The party headed by Ginny, Jennifer Diener and Lois Howard should clear $350,000 for the Bowl, where Mancini often conducted.

* Mary Lou Loper's column is published Sundays.

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