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3 things you missed from LA Opera’s 30th anniversary gala

From the podium at Los Angeles Opera‘s 30th anniversary gala, the opera’s board chairman Marc Stern rolled through the reasons opera superstar Plácido Domingo couldn’t address the 300 dinner guests seated onstage at long tables topped with centerpieces of pink roses and purple orchids at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

“I am asking for your indulgence to understand why [Domingo] really can’t talk tonight,” said Stern before the opera superstar accepted a proclamation from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

For one thing, Domingo and fellow opera star Renée Fleming had sung together during a nearly two-hour concert. Stern said Domingo had to preserve his voice for two more singing engagements after the March 18 gala, including Sunday’s performance with Fleming for the Palm Springs Life Festival.

However, Domingo’s performance and schedule didn’t stop him from addressing the audience.

“It is so thrilling and so emotional to see [LA Opera] growing,” said Domingo, LA Opera’s general director, before thanking L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis for the proclamation and acknowledging others involved in LA Opera’s success, including the first general director Peter Hemmings.

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Along with the season-opening gala and the 30th anniversary affair, LA Opera reported a fundraising record of $3.7 million for its year’s events. Tickets for the 30th anniversary gala sold for $3,000 each with tables ranging up to $150,000 apiece.

If you didn’t attend the gala, here are a few other things you missed.

1. Thanks to the audience and stars

“If you would please give yourself an enormous round of applause,” Stern said to gala attendees for their support of LA Opera, its programming and the gala concert.

“What you brought together tonight on the stage is something that is almost incomprehensible,” he said. “That we could have the greatest male opera persona in the world with the greatest female opera persona in the world conducted by one of the greatest conductors in the opera world. Here’s to Placido, Renee and James [Conlon].”

2. Chats with an Oscar winner and a Shondaland alumna

“I’m behind them for the next 30 years,” said Christoph Waltz, who starred in “Inglourious Basterds” and “Django Unchained,” during intermission. “Opera may not be something the masses flock to, but it’s not an outdated art form. ... It is very contemporary, and I’m not just talking about contemporary compositions. ... I think some people are afraid, thinking opera is something highfalutin just for highfalutin people. But it’s not. It’s an art form that is communicating through music and dramatic conflict.”

During another intermission chat, Kate Walsh from “Private Practice” and “Grey’s Anatomy” said: “I grew up listening to opera. My mother is a huge opera fan, and my grandfather on my Italian side sang light opera. So I’ve always been a big fan myself. ... I just saw that fabulous production here of ‘The Magic Flute,’ and there were so many young people and children that it made me happy to see the tradition continuing. I get a little teary-eyed thinking about it.”

3. Late-night words from Fleming

“To be such a stable company and to have such an ardent audience, [LA Opera] would be the envy of most other companies in the country,” said Fleming as midnight neared at the post-concert dinner, before adding, “I love being here.”

Ellen Olivier is the founder of SocietyNewsLA.

image@latimes.com


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