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Bowl goes Hollywood

Celebs turn out to help kick off the summer season and to induct Placido Domingo into the Hall of Fame.

June 25, 2007|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

The 2007 Hollywood Bowl season began in entertaining fashion Friday night with visual and terpsichorean delights, a colorful array of music, the induction of a pair of veteran artists into the Hall of Fame and a concluding burst of spectacular pyrotechnics -- all of it intensified by the glow of Hollywood celebrity. It was, in other words, a mini-version of the sometimes weird eclecticism that the Hollywood Bowl is all about.

A witty welcome and introduction by 90-year-old Kirk Douglas set the tone. Next up -- and "up" is the right word -- a quartet of athletic female dancers ascended on long, hanging banners, twisting and turning in lithe, dramatic fashion as Alexander Mickelthwate conducted the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in a brisk rendering of Miklos Rozsa's passionate waltz from the 1949 film "Madame Bovary."

The first inductee was the bowl orchestra's founding director, John Mauceri, a highly popular and versatile leader of that group for 16 years, during which he worked hard, and successfully, to establish the creative significance of music composed for films. Actor Patrick Stewart's video introduction cited Mauceri's equally substantial association with musical theater, saluted in a curiously off-center medley of songs performed by actor Jason Alexander and a talented quartet of male singer-dancers.

The high point of Mauceri's induction arrived when he returned to the podium to conduct a characteristically stirring version of George Balanchine's ballet "Serenade," featuring a lovely corps of dancers from the North Carolina School of the Arts (Mauceri's new professional home).

The Hollywood connection continued with yet another odd program entry when actor Jack Black, in rock 'n' roll garb, sang a tribute to "classical" music in a medley of Mozart and Beethoven, with lyrics added, followed by a video appearance by actor Sean Connery.

That set up the arrival of a third actor, Joe Mantegna, to introduce the evening's second Hall of Fame inductee, tenor Placido Domingo.

It was here that the evening reached its peak, with Domingo's engaging remarks to the crowd and an utterly entrancing duet between the veteran singer and the perky but musically adept Kristin Chenoweth, singing and obviously enjoying every minute of Jerome Kern's "Make Believe." Domingo, in powerful form, finished his segment with a dramatic rendering of "Granada."

The festivities concluded in celebratory fashion with the initial fireworks of the season, stirringly driven by Mickelthwate and the orchestra's lively performance of Bizet's "Toreador Song" and "Bohemian Dance."

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