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Mid-Season Benefit Will Open ‘Carmen’

The Los Angeles Music Center Opera dynamos are shaking castanets for an extra benefit--a mid-season gala Jan. 22 to open the opera’s first production of Bizet’s “Carmen.”

The gala is expected to make $200,000 to help compensate for the opera’s lower take from the Music Center Operating Co.'s reduced budget. Tickets are limited to 450 at $500 each.

Chair Jacqui Brandwynne Cotsen and her honorary co-chairs Anna (Mrs. Rupert) Murdoch and Ann Getty are calling the affair “An Evening in Seville;” Southern California Cadillac dealers are underwriting the party, as well as all five performances of “Carmen,” in honor of the newly streamlined Cadillac Seville STS.

At the launch luncheon held recently at Chasen’s, opera company general director Peter Hemmings noted that Placido Domingo will star; Denyce Graves will sing the title role. The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, is co-staging. Opera board president Bernard Greenberg and Opera Angels (those who have given $1 million) Flora Thornton and Leonard Green were nodding approvals to the plans: Spanish shawls for tablecloths, orange trees, flamenco dancing. The recipes for dinner will be provided by Pilar Garrigues, wife of Spain’s consul general. Carol Henry and Georgianna Erskine are in the planning whirl too.

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CHRISTMAS LOVE: “If we can all keep love within our heart, healing in the world will surely start.” Pam and Peter Mullin considered canceling their annual Christmas party this year. Instead, they sent the above message and asked each guest to bring a blanket and an unwrapped toy.

Laden with gifts, umbrellas and happy hearts, 500 arrived at Union Station Saturday to dance the night away to the Bob Gail Orchestra. Women kept their furs on as mariachis warmed the spirits during cocktails. Then everyone moved to the Art Deco ticket area of the train station, where the stage was set with masses of flocked Christmas trees surrounded by tables covered in plaid silk.

Highlights: The Mullins’ young son, Timothy, break-dancing with a vengeance while surrounded by onlookers, and daughter Courtney singing “The Rose” with the orchestra.

Among the masses: Federal District Judge Matt Byrne, Sid and Nancy Peterson, John and Marion Anderson, Cardinal Roger Mahony, John and Susan Shumway, Lynn and Hugh Evans, Helen and John Mayer, Craig and Jane Gosden, George and Jane Barrett, Billy and Cindy Simon. Guests left with the cups Rococo had used for the first course, corn chowder, inscribed with “Christmas love” from the Mullins.

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NEWEST: At The Bachelors’ annual Christmas stag dinner at Jimmy’s in Beverly Hills, party chair William Patrick Bessolo was out in front greeting newly elected members: Thomas Eichler, Michael Flynn, Michael Harrison, Larry Thrall Jr., John Mickle, Anthony Manos, Douglas McDonald, Scott McKay, Thomas Blumenthal, Eugene Leoni Jr., Aram Kezirian Jr., Steven Leland, Thomas McArthur, Thomas Mortimer Jr., David Palmer and John Vorgas.

IN RED: Upstairs at the Bistro, open during December for lunch, the 20s and 30s crowd of Luminaires Juniors was seeing red. Not only was President Judy Hewson in red, but so were at least 30 of the more than 100 in attendance: Jenny Rutt, Mary Milner, Susan Peterson, Paty Kouba, Judith Vodrey, Kathleen Macker, Wendy Marlette, Kathy Drummond, Elaine Bradford, Susan Hillgren, Chery Horacek, Ayce Delany, Danine Sheridan, Debbie Brown, Susan Ehlers, Raylene Meyer, Mary Randall, Debra Stephens, Emily Gardner, Shannon Tarnutzer, Lucy Hromadka, Kathy Julian.

Co-chairs Angela Doheny and Jan Thompson chose the Bistro “because it epitomizes the holidays.” Diane Avery stopped at Mary Milner’s table to present the mock-up of the invitation she has designed for the March 14 gala at the new Water Gardens complex in Santa Monica. Trina Shattuck and Natalie Davis brought pictures of their new babies--Sienna Shattuck and Brooke Davis--to show friends. And everyone downed the hot chocolate souffles.

GLITTER: The newly redecorated Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills must be the most beautiful store in the United States. The Tony Duquette Christmas tree and wall hangings and the newly shined chandelier by the escalator created a breathless atmosphere for the National Kidney Foundation gala Sunday evening.

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The jewelry counters were draped exquisitely for wine goblets, and a mixed crowd of Hollywood and civic leaders bumped elbows before being allowed to take the escalators to the second floor for Bob Mackie’s first West-of-New-York spring showing (with a red tulle bridal gown). Then the crowd moved to hand-printed gold damask-clothed tables with stunning topiaries of dried hydrangeas and pears that had been ordered up by Neiman’s John Martens.

Chair Verna Harrah, escorted by Leonard Rabinowitz, says the event will net $200,000. Among star Kidney Foundation supporters were Connie and Rich Frank, Wendy Goldberg, Neiman’s Terry Lundgren, Judy Feder, Melinda Winston (billowing in taffeta), Missy and Dennis Alfieri, Joan and Tom Kardashian, Ginny and Henry Mancini, Pam and Tom Korman, Milton Berle, Tina Sinatra and Robert Finkelstein, Sidney and Joan Poitier, Barbara Davis, Nancy Zarif and Corinna and Freddie Fields. Dazzling in her Van Cleef & Arpels custom-designed necklace--daisies made of yellow and white diamonds--was Kathryn Domyan, escorted by her 19-year-old son, Bryan.


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