Ten-gallon hats, boots and jeans aren't your usual Music Center garb, but then many opera lovers felt that just this once it was worth making an exception.
The opera was Puccini's "The Girl of the Golden West" set in California's gold rush era. "This is the original spaghetti Western," said Los Angeles Music Center Opera board member Leonard Green, who went along with the "black-tie and blue jeans" dress code at the opening night performance Wednesday.
Actually, at the post-performance party in the Music Center's Pavilion restaurant for gala patron subscribers (people who contribute $1,000 or more when they buy season tickets) Green could have eaten his words--spaghetti was the main course and hay bales were the operative decoration.
At the party, Tom Tilton, president of the San Francisco Opera, was duly impressed at the Southern Californians' fashion daring. "I think it's great. We'd never do this in stuffy San Francisco. That's why I come down here--so I can do research."
One of the tallest cowboys in the crowd was Ed Shannon, ablaze with turquoise Indian jewelry, boots, jeans and a black ten-gallon hat. "He had his choice tonight of Lakers tickets, Angels tickets and opera," said his wife Ruth, "and we gave them all away so he could dress in his cowboy clothes."
"Any excuse," injected her husband.
For the party, it seemed that the evening's stars, Placido Domingo, Dame Gwyneth Jones and Justino Diaz, were happy to shed their Western stage gear for tuxedos and a black evening gown for Jones. Still, Domingo admitted that there's something powerful about the lure of the Wild West. "I admire Gary Cooper and John Wayne, so it's nice to do a Western," he explained.
Also attending the supper, underwritten most fittingly by Wells Fargo Bank ("I mention Wells Fargo three times in the opera," Diaz pointed out) were Robert Graham and Anjelica Huston, Terry and Dennis Stanfill, Joe and Alice Coulombe, Judith and Ron Rosen, Ed and Hannah Carter, LAMCO president Bernard and Leonore Greenberg, LAMCO general director Peter and Jane Hemmings, Robert Morse, Leslie Pam and Ann Christie, John and Ginny Cushman and Bill and Linda Broyles.