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Taking Great Spains to Honor Domingo

The duke and duchess of San Carlos, Alvaro Fernandez-Villaverde y de Silva and Estrella Bernaldo de Quiros y Tacon, will arrive from Madrid to attend “An Evening With Placido Domingo,” the gala that celebrates the Spanish tenor’s Opera Pacific debut at the Orange County Performing Arts Center on Jan 12.

“They are wonderful people,” says Impressionist painter Maria del Carmen Calvo, honorary gala chairwoman and wife of Dr. Walter Henry (dean of the UC Irvine College of Medicine). “We wanted somebody with real class to honor Placido Domingo.”

Spanish Consul General Eduardo Garrigues, a friend of Calvo’s, invited the duke and duchess to attend the affair at the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel.

Opera society is buzzing about the elegant gala invitations underwritten by Tiffany & Co.--cream-colored missives emblazoned with Spain’s gold coat of arms and the engraved greeting: “Under the gracious patronage of the Consul General of Spain and Their Graces the Duke and Duchess of San Carlos, the Committee requests the pleasure of your company . . . . “

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Truth is, in a society season that is looking rather bleak (the Pacific Symphony has canceled its annual New Year’s Eve concert/gala due to poor turnouts the last couple of years), it’s great to have an all-out, black-tie splash on the horizon.

Calvo is a near-and-dear of heiress Joan Irvine Smith and Renee Segerstrom (wife of mall mogul Henry Segerstrom). Both plan to attend the $300 per-person soiree (it’s nearly a sellout).

“I have an angel doing half of the (gala) work,” says Calvo. “And her name is Renee. She’s terrific.”

Gala decor is still a work-in-progress, Calvo says. “We haven’t quite finalized it.” But she’s sure of the menu--"very Spanish with tapas served during the reception and pork loin with brandy sauce as the main course.”

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Gala favors will be $50 bottles of Paloma Picasso fragrance provided by Bullock’s of South Coast Plaza.

Co-chairing the event are opera activists Floss Schumacher and Dotti Stillwell. “We’ve been working on this for a year,” says Schumacher, past president of Opera Pacific. “And Opera Pacific has been trying to get Domingo on its schedule for five years.”

James Conte and Harry Reinsch are underwriting Domingo’s appearance.

A Christmas Carol: For the second year in a row, Security Pacific National Bank bought out South Coast Repertory to celebrate its role as honorary producer of the holiday classic, “A Christmas Carol,” playing through Dec. 24. Hundreds of employees of Security Pacific gathered in SCR’s courtyard last week for pre-performance hors d’oeuvres and libations. During intermission, desserts and coffee were served. Very nice touch. Among guests: David Wheeler, Security Pacific executive vice president, with his wife, Wendy; Liam McGee; Tom Rogers; Richard and Teresa Davis, and Randy and Lynn Zurbach.

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Concert on Behalf of AIDS Walk: A benefit for AIDS Walk Orange County is being held in conjunction with the Pacific Symphony orchestra’s performance on Dec. 19 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Tickets at $50 each include the concert (featuring Christopher Parkening on guitar) and a champagne and dessert reception at the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel. Pacific Symphony has donated 200 tickets to AIDS Walk to help them raise funds. AIDS Walk Orange County has raised more than $1.5 million since it was founded in 1987.


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