MALIBU SEEN

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ME AND MY SHADOW

Opera lovers reveled in a feast for the eyes and ears at the opening night performance of “Die Frau Ohne Schatten” or “The Woman Without a Shadow” at the Los Angeles Music Center. But before the performance got underway, many sipped champagne and cracked open a few fresh oysters at Kendell’s, Joachim Spichal’s elegant new eatery. The stylish restaurant has moved to the old Otto’s location, boasting a stunning facelift and a sophisticated bistro menu. Otto’s, a longtime hangout for performing artists and performing art lovers alike, will be missed, but many are calling this food feast a welcome change. If you fancy a little French onion soup and bouillabaisse along with your arias, be sure you have a reservation. Opening night here was standing room only.

Soon it was show time, and we made our way up to the grand confines of Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. While many LA Opera works are easy to digest, you’d best read up on this one ahead of time. It’s a mind blowing adventure into fantasyland detailing the trials and tribulations of an exotic god whose daughter is half-human until she is transformed into a gazelle and hunted down by an equally exotic Emperor who turns her back into a woman and falls in love with her. Now no longer part of the spirit or the human world, the deity’s little darling has no shadow and will remain childless until she gets one. If she doesn’t come up with a shadow, the emperor will turn to stone. Malfeasance and chicanery ensue. Conspiracies are hatched and moral questions arise over the age-old practice of shadow stealing. None of that boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl stuff in this sassy Strauss spectacle, no siree.

Yes, Linda Watson and the rest of the cast were riveting. There was Doris Soffel as the nurse and Inga Nielsen as the empress and Robert Dean Smith as the turbaned emperor. But the real show stealers were the magical sets of famed pop artist David Hockney.

The stage was filled with dreamy landscapes in vibrant shades of lavender, raspberry and deep evergreen. A kaleidoscope of color and liquid shapes danced and dazzled across the stage. There were wild tracery clouds that resembled gigantic pink doilies, twisty rivers of gold, aquamarine moons and whimsical forestry.

After the final bows, VIPs made their way up the grand staircase to the fifth floor for a late night supper and cast party. Plot lines were debated and decorations discussed. As the clock struck twelve, there was time for one last sip of espresso and one last bite of chocolate before bleary-eyed opera lovers said adeiu to fantasyland and made their way into the night.