Malibu Seen: Ignite the night

Opera lovers gathered for a night to remember at the Music Center, as the Los Angeles Opera kicked off its new 2012/2013 season in grand style. Malibu designer Sue Wong joined locals like LAO Board chairman Marc Stern and his wife, Eva, and philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad for the company premiere of Giuseppe Verdi’s “The Two Foscari.”

Sue turned heads in a show-stopping feathered gown, complete with one of her jaw-dropping statement necklaces. The Sterns looked sharp, and the Broads were elegant as always.

“The Two Foscari” had general director Placido Domingo performing his 140th role and celebrating his 45th season in Los Angeles. It was conducted by music director James Conlon. As always, the theme of the opera was tied into the sumptuous décor and scrumptious menu.

Taking a cue from “the fire breather,” who appears in the production’s splashy carnival scene, the spectacular evening was dubbed “Ignite!” Festivities began with a VIP cocktail party and gala dinner for 320 guests. Ruby red and tangerine fabrics flowed as crystal chandeliers glowed. The exquisite tables were dressed in the colors of the evening and topped by flame-shaped floral arrangements.

Well-heeled guests walked the red carpet where they were snapped by dozens of photographers as they made their way to the magical Music Center Plaza. Servers made the rounds with cool beverages and tasty canapés. The awaiting production wasn’t the only thing that was smokin’. With record-setting temperatures soaring to the level of a hot August night, some of the ladies were sweltering in all their finery, but were quickly accommodated with “I am an LAO fan” fans.

After a gourmet feast, it was showtime, and opera lovers made their way to their seats. “The Two Foscari” is one of those productions that is rarely seen and drew raves for its powerful performances and bold staging. Apparently, the “Foscari” was last staged in the United States several decades ago.

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After the performance, the “Ignite!” theme continued with a lively after-party for 430 guests, featuring fire dancers from Zen Arts, fire pits and a popular s’mores station. To celebrate a successful evening, revelers toasted with specialty cocktails delivered by servers in flamecolored tutus.

In addition to the Broads, Sterns and Sue Wong, opera patrons included Carla and Fred Sands, Claude and Alfred Mann, and Lori and Michael Milken. The evening raised an impressive $1.5 million, and no one could have been happier than chairman Marc Stern, who applauded Placido Domingo in his 140th role as Francesco Foscari, the Doge of Venice. “The evening was a great success,” he said. “We made history tonight.” The season continues with favorites like “Madame Butterfly,” “The Flying Dutchman,” “Cinderella” and that all-time-favorite “Tosca.”

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