Malibu Seen

YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE FRIENDS

There’s nothing like celebrating life’s special moments with a few close friends. And if you happen to be Placido Domingo, your pals bring something else to the party-platinum pipes and plenty of star power.

So when the LA Opera director called on his crew to help mark the company’s big 2-0, we knew it would be no small affair.

Some of the opera world’s biggest names joined Mr. D for the “Placido and Friends” performance and gala at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

The evening kicked off with Act IV of Verdi’s “Othello,” one of Domingo’s signature roles. Working on stage alongside the legendary tenor was a once-in-a-lifetime thrill for resident artist Andrew Wilkowske. “Can you believe it,” he said with glee. “I’m the guy who almost got to kill Placido Domingo.” The young singer, who is just wrapping up a stint with the LAO, leaves with a lasting impression of his acclaimed 65-year-old boss. “I don’t know how he does it,” Wilkowske said. “Running two companies, putting on a production like this and being able to sing the way he does, is absolutely amazing.”

After a brief break for champagne and canapés, the show kicked into high gear. Singers hit the stage dressed in opulent 19th-century garb-sweeping gowns for the gals, white tux and tails for the guys. The “Die Fledermaus” party scene showcased the talents of Cynthia Lawrence, Lucy Schaufer, Malcolm McKenzie, Earle Patriarco and Rod Gilfry, to name a few. But PD had more in store, wowing the crowd with surprise appearances by opera A-listers Angela Gheorghiu and Robert Alagna as well as Broadway notables Ruth Ann Swenson and Mark Delvan.

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The program wrapped up with 50-some cast members joining the stars for a rousing rendition of “Brindisi” from La Traviata, ending with a shower of gold confetti and a standing ovation.

The musical extravaganza was a big hit with locals like Ginny Mancini. “I wouldn’t think of missing this,” she said. “I knew it would be something very special.”

Following the performance, the festivities continued with an elegant dinner celebration at the DCP’s Grand Hall. The tables were dressed in gold lame with towering centerpieces filled with blush roses, white lilacs, pink tulips and green orchids. Following a gourmet spread of smoked sturgeon, celeriac medallions of beef and white chocolate mousse, opera buffs danced the night away to jazzy American standards.

In the end, this buddy system did not disappoint. The magical occasion raised more than 600K to keep music in the air.

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