The Valley Line: Crowd turns out for Pops enchantment

How is you summer going? I can hardly believe it is the end of July already. I guess that is what happens when you are having a good time — the days just fly by.

I don't know if it is because I'm approaching my twilight years that days seem to pass me by at an accelerated rate. When I was a kid, that just didn't happen.

This past weekend I went with friends to see the “Cleopatra: The Exhibition” at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

The presentation of the exhibit is beautifully staged and lighted. There are more than 150 pieces on view that were reclaimed from the sea near Cleopatra's great city of Alexandria, Egypt.

From enormous statues of gods to exquisite and fragile jewels, this is a magnificent exhibit. Most astonishing is a papyrus that has the signature of the dynamic queen who captivated two of Rome's most powerful men, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

To enhance this Egyptian experience, guests can also buy tickets for the film, “Mysteries of Egypt,” showing in the IMAX Theatre next to the exhibit building.

I hope you can fit this rare exhibit and the film into your busy schedules — the exhibit closes on Dec. 31.


The Pasadena Pops, in its second outing in its new home at the Arboretum in Arcadia, hit a home run with its July 21 concert. Even the peacocks seemed to be enraptured, enjoying the concert with very little squawking.

I don't think there was a vacant table to sit at, or patch of grass to claim for lawn seating. This was the biggest crowd for a Pops concert that I can recall. Nearly 4,000 people came to be enchanted by the music of Cole Porter.

The program began with the introduction of conductor Marvin Hamlisch. The orchestra had a very shaky beginning as a few wrong notes were played during the opening bars of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Hamlisch apologized and went off stage to retry his entrance. His second appearance evoked a huge round of applause.

The evening was dedicated to the music of the great composer Cole Porter as sung by Porter historian and vocalist Michael Feinstein.

A special treat came when 16-year-old upstate New York high school student Nick Diovro sang. Nick was winner of Feinstein's foundation's annual competition for youth that encourages the preservation of the music of great American composers. The teen captured everyone's heart when he sang Porter's “All of Me.” When he finished the piece, the audience was shouting for more. He was an amazing young singer. I know we will be hearing more about this talent in the future.

I have on several occasions heard Feinstein in small, intimate concert settings, so it was great to see him perform in this expansive setting. He knows how to work a stage and the audience. Feinstein mesmerized the audience with Porter favorites such as “I Love Paris,” “It was Just One of Those Things,” “Begin the Beguine,” “Let's Do It,” and many more.

The big surprise of the evening came when another piano was rolled onto the stage and Hamlisch and Feinstein had a piano duel. The piano that Feinstein was playing was a Steinway, while Hamlisch's piano was a lesser-known make. The crowd got a big laugh when Feinstein asked Hamlisch if he had “piano envy” because his piano was far superior.

They started their piano duel by playing an advanced version of chopsticks. They then played “The Way We Were,” by composers Alan and Marilyn Bergman, who were in the audience.

It was an exciting and warm summer evening of music.


Before I leave you, I want to tell you about one more event. Podley Properties, along with Revival Antiques in Pasadena, recently presented a lecture about the Spanish Colonial Revival style of architecture.

Douglas Woods, author of “The California Casa,” was on hand to talk about this architectural style and the writing of the book. There are five La Cañada Flintridge homes featured in the beautiful book. Dr. Paul Toffel and his wife, Beverly, whose home was featured in the book, were in the audience. The Toffel house was also a Pasadena Showcase House of Design a few years ago.

“The California Casa” is a beautifully rendered book, with photographs by Melba Levick.

After the lecture and a delightful reception featuring a taco bar and chilled cervezas, Wood stayed on to sign books.

Some of the Podley reps there to meet and greet included Crystal Narramore, Cheyenne Wilbur, Nancy Valentine, Brett Furrey, Matt Littell and Boyd Smith.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Send news of your special event to her at

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