Placido Domingo said he is always nervous before a performance - whether singing one of the 120 roles he has mastered, or as the conductor. But he is most nervous when his wife, Marta is directing a new production, as she did opening night of La Traviata for the Los Angeles Opera. But there was no need for him to be concerned, because Marta scored a perfect 20 in this visually stunning production, featuring soprano Elizabeth Furtal as the beautiful and doomed Violetta.
|Mike Stoller ("Smokey Joe's Cafe") and his musician wife, Corky Hale, enjoying dinner at awards banquet|
The setting for the Verdi classic was updated to the roaring 20's, and Violetta was transformed into an alluring flapper, complete with Diamond Head band and chemise type gowns. The white organdy ball gown she wore at the soiree at her villa was worthy of red carpet coverage, and the bling worn by the attractive ladies of the chorus was spectacular. We were particularly impressed by the sprite-like young dancers who performed an Egyptian type number, donned in gold helmets and spangles. We understand that Marta selected every fabric and piece of jewelry to add authenticity to the staging.
|Placido & Marta Domingo with Maria Cuellar & Jorge Lagunes, honored by the Hispanics for the L.A. Opera|
And as for the singing - Furtal, who conquered L.A. as Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare was perfectly cast as the tragic heroine, and tenor Joseph Calleja, who made his debut as her young lover (Alfredo) was in fine voice and properly overwhelmed by her beauty and verve.
|Actress CCH Pounder, honored by Women in Radio & TV|
At the after party benefiting the Hispanics for the Opera, awards were presented to Mexican baritone Jorge Lagunes and philanthropist Priscilla Lizarra, who produces fundraising events making it possible for thousands of young Latino youths to attain a college education. Also honored were Founders of the organization, Alicia and Ed Clark. Kudos to Orlando J. Ortega and his co-chair Dolores Elena Richardson for an evening of elegance and excitement.
|Joseph Calleja and Elizabeth Furtal (stars of "La Traviata") with Marc Stern, Chairman of the LA Opera|
Lots of estrogen was flowing at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood when the American Women in Radio and Television presented their Genii Awards. Among the honorees was Loreen Arbus, who received their Lifetime Achievement Award. Arbus, who was the first woman in the U.S. to head up programming for a national network, wears many hats - producer, author and humanitarian. She is also a foremost Argentine Tango dancer who has performed around the world. Would that she had danced that night, instead of the musical performances before and during dinner. Although they were talented musicians, when will the organizers of events learn that loud, overbearing music before dinner (when table mates want to socialize) and during dinner (when they want to enjoy their meal) is not suitable? As you can see from the photo attached of composer, Mike Stoller (Smokey Joe's Café) and his musician wife, Corky Hale, it was necessary to hold our ears to dine.
|Orlando Ortega (Chairman) with Alicia and Ed Clark, Founders of the Hispanics for the LA Opera|
However, the evening still was a rousing success. With presenters like actresses Alexandra Paul and Joan Van Ark, and prestigious honorees like Paula Madison, President of NBC, and Emmy nominated actress CCH Pounder (The Shield, it was a most rewarding evening for women who have dedicated many years of service to the community of broadcasting on the Hollywood Beat..