Malibu Seen / By Kim Devore

Silver anniversary for L.A. Opera

It was a triple celebration at the splashy opening night of the Los Angeles Opera. First there was a world premiere. Then there was the kick off of the company’s 25th anniversary plus news of a renewed contract for LAO’s esteemed general director, Placido Domingo.

The opening of “Il Postino” was an excuse to go all out and guests arrived in style. Stretch limos were stacked up bumper to bumper as opera lovers emerged in their frills and finery.

Ladies were decked out in taffeta, sequins and satin. There were rich jewel tones and fall colors like chocolate, pumpkin and raspberry. Other fashion statements had an international flavor with Japanese kimonos, Grecian gowns, Indian saris and glitzy Nehru jackets.

Guests hit the VIP cocktail reception for bit of bubbly while servers made the rounds with buratta and roast beef crostini.

Soon it was show time and the new production proved to be a treat for the eyes and the ears. “Il Postino” was inspired by the film of the same name and tells the story of a shy postman who develops a relationship with a Chilean poet played by Placido Domingo. The sets were simply dressed but packed a visual punch with crashing ocean waves to graphic lines of script and prose hanging in the air. The performances were stellar. “Amazing,” marveled Malibu music lover Cynthia Troop. ‘Everyone was absolutely wonderful.”

After a five-minute standing ovation, guests made their way to the outdoor patio that had been transformed into an enchanted garden. A lively quintet played appropriate tunes like “Arrivederci Roma” as guests settled in for a gourmet feast. After some welcoming remarks from LAO Chairman and CEO, Malibu’s Marc Stern, we tucked into a feast of eggplant parmigiana, Italian wood-fired John Dory with porcini risotto and broccolini topped off with a coconut panna cotta.

Placido Domingo had words of praise for the opera’s hard working CEO. “In his many years as chairman and CEO, he has proven himself to be L.A. Opera’s greatest champion. I am very proud to convey my deepest affection and gratitude to Marc and his wife Eva for their inspiration, support, guidance and friendship over the years.”

The Sterns had a little news of their own. The long-time arts supporters presented the Music Center with a major gift to expand programming and help fund arts education. In appreciation of their commitment and generosity over the past decade, the Grand Hall of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion will now be called the Mark and Eva Stern Grand Hall. The amount of the gift was not disclosed, but it makes the music loving Malibu couple second only to the Walt Disney family in terms of Music Center donations.

Domingo had more thanks in store for the opera’s many friends who have seen the company grow into a world-class institution. “I have every expectation in the years to come that we will see the company climbing even higher on the international ladder of operatic success. In the meantime, this is just the beginning of our season long celebration and many more nights of extraordinary opera.”

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