Stana Katic, of ABC's "Castle," speaks at the LA Opera… (Todd Williamson/Invision…)
In celebration of the start of its 2012-2013 season, Los Angeles Opera started partying early Saturday with a 5 p.m. reception and dinner on the Music Center Plaza, before the opening performance of Verdi’s “The Two Foscari” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The crowd then returned to the plaza for a high-energy after-party, chaired by Stana Katic, star of TV’s “Castle.”
The gala theme of “Ignite!” proved appropriate not only because of the patron level categories of "blaze," "fire" and "flame" but also because the party ended a day of record-setting temperatures, which reached 103 degrees in downtown Los Angeles.
Happily for guests mingling in their buttoned-up tuxedos, gowns and jewels, the opera passed out fans to help ladies' hairdos from melting, cleverly reading “I’m a Fan of LA Opera -- Greater Than the Sum of Its Arts.”
Among those seen on opening night were Oscar-winning actor Christoph Waltz ("Inglorious Basterds"), actress Anna Gunn ("Breaking Bad"), production sponsor Milan Panic and MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch.
What else could one do but joke about the heat wave? Said gala chair Jill Baldauf, “We like to carry a theme through, although we never meant to take it this far.”
Looking at the bright side, Katic later remarked of the high temperatures, “It makes the skin glow.”
A regular at the LA Opera, Katic said she was happy to participate in its season-opening soiree. “It’s a popular assumption that Los Angeles only has film and television,” she said. “We forget sometimes that Los Angeles offers many of the traditional arts as well -- the opera, ballet, art museums.”
Having tailored the after-party to Aria, the opera's support group of young professionals in their 20s, 30s and 40s, the late-night soiree featured a rock band and shapely female fire twirlers, clad in bustiers. And while tickets for the complete gala package started at $2,500 each, tickets for the opera and Aria party alone began at $225.
Opera patrons on hand included Marilyn Ziering and Howard Walter, Mary Hayley and Selim Zilkha, Claude and Alfred Mann, Carol and Warner Henry, Kathy and Frank Baxter, Edye and Eli Broad, Joan and John Hotchkis, Joyce and Kent Kresa, Lori and Michael Milken, Nancy and Barry Sanders, Lenore and Bernard Greenberg, Carla and Fred Sands, and Barbara Augusta Teichert.
On taking the podium, LA Opera Chairman Marc Stern said, "We made history tonight," noting that Plácido Domingo had sung his 140th role as Francesco Foscari, the Doge of Venice.
For his part, Domingo, who is also the opera's general director, introduced gala chairs Baldauf and Katic, as well as the cast of the night's opera. He called the Aria crowd the opera’s “new young people, who will one day be members of the board.”
And before the night ended, Baldauf also reported another record: proceeds of $1.5 million.
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