The Official Opening of the Social Season on the Hollywood Beat is the Opening Night Gala of the Los Angeles Opera. And what an auspicious evening that was! Renowned Diva Renee Fleming made her first appearance with the company, in the role of Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata, co-starring with Rolando Villazon, the magnetic Mexican born tenor. The two handsome artists, who have received international acclaim, were joined by musical director, James Conlon, making his debut with the Opera Company. All this, and a production staged by Marta Domingo! Who could ask for anything more? All three performances, featuring Fleming, are being filmed by Decca for release on DVD.

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Placido & Marta Domingo at Los Angeles Opera Opening Night

At the after soiree, the courtyard of the music center was elaborately tented and draped with thousands of huge white Camellias. After all, La Traviata was based on Dumas first published novel, LA Dame aux Camellias, and his own affair with the courtesan Marie Dupless, who died of consumption in 1850. Dumas character died young, but lives forever in the magical music of Verdi.

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Renee Fleming and Rolando Villazon, stars of "La Traviata"

The next day, we were treated to an Italian Festival Luncheon prior to the opening performance of Verdi's Don Carlo. Salvatore Licitra portrayed the only son of Philip II of Spain, whose love for his stepmother, and his desire to aid the Flemish people in obtaining their freedom from Spanish rule, leads to a royal tragedy. Particularly outstanding in her role as ferocious Princess Eboli (whose love for Don Carlo is not returned, ) is Dolora Zajick, who proves there is nothing so dangerous as a woman scorned.

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Patricia Kelly (widow of Gene Kelly) at opening night Gala

Other Opera Offerings this season include Manon, Porgy and Bess and the Merry Widow. A $6 million dollar gift from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation will also assist their upcoming new production of Wagner's Ring Cycle. As Placido Domingo, General Director stated, "As we gather here on the eve of our 21st season, I could not be more excited about the Company's future." Neither can we!

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Actress Gina Torrres (wife of Laurence Fishburne) at opening night gala of Opera

Still on a musical note, international music star, Michel Legrand, will jet in from Paris to accept the Young Musician Foundation's Magic Baton Award, at its 52nd Annual Gala on October 20th at the Beverly Hilton. Anne and Kirk Douglas will also be honored for setting an exemplary standard of philanthropy throughout their lives. For ticket info, please call 310-859-7668.

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Anne & Kirk Douglas - who will be honored at Young Musicians Foundation

And to further add to the musical score, the Actors Funds of America will present a series of Musical Mondays, a series of Cabaret Events in the lobby of the historic Pantages Theatre. Evenings begin with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, followed by a desert reception. Among the featured artists are Brian Stokes Mitchell, Peter Gallagher and Valarie Pettiford. All these singers have performed on Broadway in such musicals as Man of La Mancha and Kiss Me Kate, and funds raised will help support those in need in the Entertainment Community. For further info, please call 323-933-9244.

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Joe Satriani & Steve Vai - will play a benefit concert for Cliff Cultreri

Legendary guitarists Joe Satriani and Steve Vai are gearing up to play a special benefit concert for music industry veteran and friend, Cliff Cultreri on Saturday, September 30th at the House of Blues, Hollywood, and will feature performances by both Satriani and Vai, as well as special guests - Steve Lukather, Dweezil Zappa, Paul Gilbert, Billy Sheehan, Scott Henderson and Johnny Hiland. Cliff Cultreri 'discovered' both Satriani and Vai as well as many other popular recording artists. Cultreri is suffering from a host of Auto-Immune and Connective-Tissue disorders that are attacking his immune system, a one in 100 million occurrence that causes severe pain and physical problems. Satriani and Vai hope to raise funds to help Cultreri and his family with their financial needs. Tickets prices are set $100 and are currently available for sale through ticketmaster.com or at the House of Blues box office. For more information on the show, visit www.satriani.com and www.vai.com. As you can see, music of all sorts is alive and well on the Hollywood Beat.

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