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Tinsel shines at fete of operatic proportions

May 15, 2003|Ann Conway | Times Staff Writer

With friends like these, who needs solos? Not Placido Domingo.

Joined onstage and at a post-performance bash by divas who included Renee Fleming and Denyce Graves and movie stars such as Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Sidney Poitier, the artistic director of Los Angeles Opera celebrated the "Placido Domingo and Friends" concert and gala that raised $1 million for the company.

"How do you like my date?" a flirtatious Romijn-Stamos said as she sat next to the silver-haired tenor under a tent on the plaza of the Los Angeles Music Center. The blushing superstar seemed pleased. After all, this is what it is all about for Los Angeles Opera at the moment -- creating a celebrity stir that will attract patrons. "We need even more subscribers," said Domingo, who only minutes before had sung selections from "Otello" and "La Tabernera Del Puerto" in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. "It's exciting for people to come if they know that Hollywood stars will be there."

For gala-goers, Tuesday's night at the opera began with an alfresco cocktail reception, where wind dancers with dogwood in their hair swayed on pedestals as chimes jangled on their arms. "We wanted guests to enjoy the feel of spring," explained party consultant Jonathan Reeves.

Then it was on to the concert, where celebrities including Salma Hayek, Garry Marshall -- "I'm a real close friend to come when the Lakers are playing," he quipped -- and Hugh Jackman introduced the performers. Even Sting got into the act, moodily strumming a guitar as he sang "Fragile." A pal of Domingo's son, Pepe Domingo, the pop star agreed to perform only days before the concert. "I happen to know his first public performance was in a school play as a sheep," Jackman told the crowd. "Boy, did they miss out."

After the two-hour production, gala-goers swept into the tented pavilion, where they dined on lobster salad and filet of beef at tables spread with wasabi- and pear-hued cloths -- just off the plane from a linen vendor in South Africa -- glittering with iridescent paillettes. Centerpieces were clusters of green orchids.

Also on the partyscape: platform dancers, swathed head to toe in diaphanous white chiffon, sporting fuzzy silver antennae. "They were supposed to look like butterflies, but they look more like reindeer," deadpanned one opera organizer.

As she schmoozed with Paramount chief Sherry Lansing, Fleming, who came from New York to perform, said it had been an honor to take part in the concert. "Every artist who participated was of the highest level."

Said Lansing: "I was moved to tears."

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