The Valley Line: A fabulous night at the opera

Women in exquisite formal gowns and glittering jewels accompanied by gentlemen in tuxedos were the center of attraction for photographers as the flash of their cameras lit up the night.

It was the opening night, Sept. 17, at the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the Los Angeles Opera’s 25th season and the eagerly anticipated performance of Tchaikovsky’s dramatic “Eugene Onegin.” This is only the second time that L.A. Opera has presented a Tchaikovsky opera—the first being “Queen of Spades,” in 2001.

As is the way each year, the opening of the opera heralds the beginning of social events in the greater Los Angeles area, including our Foothills area.

The event carried a theme that centered around Russia’s famed white nights. When guests arrived they walked a white carpet instead of the standard red. The brilliant jewel tones of many of the gowns and colorful bow ties and cummerbunds certainly stood out on this subdued walkway.

White also was the color theme for the pre-concert dinner, served on the plaza in front of the Pavilion, that attracted about 300 opera lovers and donors. Crystal chandeliers framed the opening into the dining plaza. White orchids and Casablanca lilies were abundant on dining tables that covered with white cloths, gleaming silver and crystal goblets.

The dinner menu, which took its cue from St. Petersburg and other Russian cities, was created by Patina Catering. The taste treats began with salmon torte and roasted baby beets. The entrée was beef tenderloin Stroganoff with sea-salt-roasted Russian potatoes.

Aria, the young professional group of opera lovers, with actress Emmy Rossum as its party chair, fashioned a dynamite post-performance party in the Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall that lasted into the wee hours of the morning.

The dance floor was never empty as guests were encouraged to try out the latest dance moves by the upbeat band provided by Wayne Foster Entertainment. Specialty cocktails featuring Akvinta vodka were concocted by Crave Cocktail Catering and Shotgun Promotions. Fruit-infused vodka drinks as well as white and black Russians were fun to taste.

Some of the Russia-inspired hors d’oeuvres included pirogi, Russian dark rye grilled cheese bites and mini-mugs of potato leek soup. The desserts, such as Pavlova and baba romavaya and other sweet pastries, were presented by a model whose wide skirt was topped by a board that held them. A huge ice sculpture featured sorbet-filled macaroons.

It was quite a night as devoted opera-goers only had a few hours of sleep before Sunday’s 2 p.m. premiere of Mozart’s comedic opera “Cosi Fan Tutte” took over the stage.

It was an exciting weekend for opera aficionados and a fabulous start to the L.A. Opera’s 25th season.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at

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