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Social Circuits

January 13, 2002

On StageWith Domingo

The stage of Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was transformed into a Spanish cabaret for L.A. Opera's "On Stage Gala: A Night of Zarzuela and Operetta With Placido Domingo and Friends." The black-tie event, which raised more than $350,000, took its theme from the musical roots that launched Domingo's career. Zarzuela--a theatrical form, which is to Spain what Gilbert & Sullivan is to England, operetta to Vienna, and the Broadway musical to America--was the Domingo family business.

Eva Stern chaired last Sunday's lavish fiesta, which cost $1,500 to $2,500 per person, for a chance to get up close and personal with L.A. Opera's poster boy and his amigos: sopranos Julia Migenes and Virginia Tola and tenor Charles Castronovo. Alberto Vilar acted as honorary chairman of the doings, which began with a cocktail reception in the lobby, until pavilion chimes signaled a move to the stage, where tables with centerpieces of red chili peppers, pomegranates and roses surrounded a dance floor set beneath the giant chandelier used in the season's opener, "The Queen of Spades."

Domingo chose an Austro-Hispanic musical menu of works by Strauss, Lehar and Offenbach along with a medley of zarzuela songs, concluding with the love duet from "El Gato Montes," in which he starred during the 1994 season. All were accompanied by the L.A. Opera dancers, chorus and orchestra, with John DeMain and Miguel Roa conducting. The maestro also had a hand in choosing the fare created by Chef Joachim Splichal: Spanish tapas followed by wiener schnitzel and a trio of desserts: sacher torte, palacinta and arroz con leche; complemented by bubbly from Gloria Ferrer and wines from Lindemans.

In his remarks before dinner, Domingo paid tribute to the late Peter Hemmings, L.A. Opera's general director from 1986 to 2000, who died from cancer Jan. 4 at his home in Dorset, England.

"It is to Peter's credit that L.A. Opera exists today," Domingo said. "He proved that L.A., which never before had its own company, could become one of the world's premier opera sites.''

In the crowd of more than 400 were the Domingo clan, Stern's husband Marc, who serves as president of L.A. Opera, Alyce and Spud Williamson (they underwrote the dance performance), Joan and John Hotchkis, Margie and David Barry, Kara Fox and Leonard Green, Elizabeth Hirsch, Jude Green and Bob Feinberg, Lois and Buzz Aldrin, Annette and Peter O'Malley, Debbie and Mark Attansio, Deborah and Gabriel Brener, Karen Fink and Simon Clark, Kathy and Michel Harouche, Thea and Thomas Gottschalk, Richard Colborn, Tara Colborn, Leslie and John Dorman, Ambassador John Gavin, Maxine Dunitz, Carol and Warner Henry, Lenore and Bernard Greenberg, Jill Baldauf and Steven Grossman, Kandis and Jonathan Jaffrey, Lauren Leichtman and Arthur Levine, Will Mestag, Denise and Chuck Tharnstrom, Annie and Roger Wacker, Fiorenza and Malcolm Lucas, Maria Antonia Horne, Mary Haley and Selim Zilkha, Patricia Kennedy and Lee Iacocca, and the newly engaged Lynn Hirsch and Otis Booth.

--Patt Diroll

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Goldsborough, Adieu

Nearly 150 Music Center stalwarts packed the Founders Room of Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to say hail and farewell to Nicholas Goldsborough, the Music Center's vice president since 1995. He's off to face the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in Washington, D.C., where he'll take over as managing director of the Shakespeare Theatre later this month.

Music Center staffers serenaded their longtime colleague at the Monday gathering with Broadway tunes reworked just for him, including Cole Porter's "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" from "Kiss Me, Kate." Andrea Van de Kamp, chairman of the Music Center Board, praised Goldsborough for his leadership, particularly his efforts to build Disney Concert Hall and revitalize dance presentations at the center. "I arrived here shortly after Nick," she said, "And, boy, was I glad he was here!"

--P.D.

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Coming Up:

* "Hooray for Hollywood," a silent and live auction to benefit the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR), will be Saturday at Hollywood Entertainment Museum. Tickets start at $50. Call (323) 857-5900, Ext. 109.

* Center Theatre Group's annual benefit, "Salon X at the Taper," will celebrate the music and lyrics of Cole Porter, Jan. 28, at the Mark Taper Forum. Tickets are $500, which includes pre- and post-performance parties. A limited number of tickets for the show only are available at $100. Call (213) 972-3139.

* Circle of Friends, a support group for Pasadena's Kidspace Children's Museum, hosts "Reel to Reel," an evening of 1940s Hollywood glamour, Feb. 2 at the Park Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. Tickets: $175. Call (626) 449-9143.

* A dance tribute to Busby Berkeley will be a highlight of the Professional Dancers Society's annual Gypsy Awards luncheon honoring June Haver and Gregory Hines on Feb. 10 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Tickets: $125. Call (310) 285-1411.

* The songs of Frank Loesser and Johnny Mercer will be featured at the 18th annual S.T.A.G.E. Benefit set for March 8-10 at Luckman Theatre at Cal State Los Angeles. Proceeds are earmarked for AIDS Project Los Angeles, Laguna Shanti and the Neil Bogart Memorial Fund. Tickets: $30-$200. Call (323) 656-9069.

The Muscular Dystrophy Assn. presents the 16th annual "Muscle Team" dinner and auction March 13 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Tickets start at $250. Call (888) 525-6244.

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Information for Social Circuits can be directed to Patt Diroll in Los Angeles or Ann Conway in Orange County. Diroll is at patt diroll@earthlink.net; Conway at ann.conway@latimes.com, or (714) 966-5952.

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