Malibu Seen

Melanie Griffith and husband Antonio Banderas join Los Angeles' Placido Domingo for An All-Star Salute at the Music Center. Photo by Mike Tran Flimmagic


Forty years ago when a young Placido Domingo stepped onto the stage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, he was a rising star. Today, the man considered by many to be the greatest tenor of his time, is a legend. As General Director, he has transformed the Los Angeles Opera into a world-class company and given La-La Land some serious culture cred. So when it came time to celebrate his four decades on the scene, the City of Angels went all out.

Opera lovers and A-listers hit the Music Center to praise Placido and to par-tay.

Jane Seymour looked electrifying in a bright tangerine halter dress while Mrs. Gene Kelly turned heads in a stunning pale taffeta gown. Some of the city’s most famous faces were in the crowd, including fellow Spaniard Antonio Banderas and wife Melanie Griffith as well as Stacy Keach, Michael Eisner and Kirk Douglas. Even guys got gussied up with Gil Garcetti sporting a stylish white opera scarf and colorful Asian-inspired bow tie.

The festivities got off to an early start at the pre-performance cocktail bash where servers made the rounds with yellowtail tacos, artichoke skewers, braised short rib taquitos, and to prove Los Angeles is the ultimate melting pot, Gravlax Ruben pizza.

The buzz was all about Placido and his impact on LA. “We are talking about 40 years of commitment,” said opera CEO and Malibu rez Marc Stern. “Placido Domingo is an integral part of the city.” Marc has heard his fair share of productions over the years, but when asked to name his favorite Domingo performance, the answer was easy. “I’d love to say something exotic,” Marc mused, “but it’s got to be Othello.”

Soon it was showtime. The stage was dressed to impress with massive burgundy swags surrounded by garlands of red and orange roses and Hawaiian ginger. As the tribute got underway, memorable Domingo moments played on the big screen from powerful LAO performances to a fun-filled appearance on the Carol Burnett Show.

Domingo teamed up with soprano Patricia Racette and L.A. Opera conductor James Conlon in a program that featured arias from some of his greatest roles: “Otello,” “Walkure” and “The Queen of Spades.” A standing ovation drew three encores and concluded with his signature, “Granada.”

Next, well-heeled revelers headed for the outdoor plaza, which was transformed into an enchanted garden. The place was awash in vibrant shades of purple. The tables were dressed in crisp lime green silk with elegant arrangements of fragrant lilacs, delicate sweet peas, pink peonies, day lilies, blush roses and spring tulips.

Celeb chef Joachim Splichal prepared a first-class feast with a Spanish twist. Guests tucked merguez sausage, gambas a la plancha, manchego cheese-potato croquette and gazpacho, followed by grilled rack of lamb with saffron risotto and topped off with a decadent dulce de leche mousse.

They ate, drank and danced the night away, celebrating someone who has given the city something to sing about. “Placido’s career has been a love affair between a man and a city,” Stern said. “His name is synonymous with artistic excellence and his impact on Los Angeles is literally immeasurable.”

The gala ended on a high note, raising more than $1.5 million.