We were privileged to attend the L.A. Opera's One-Night-Only "Placido Domingo & Friends 20th Anniversary Performance and Gala" at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. And what friends this guy has! The first act starred Placido in one of his signature roles, Otello, along with Patricia Racette as his doomed Desdemona. After his stirring performance, do you think he just sat back and watched act two - which was the party scene from Die Fledermaus? Not our Placido. Instead he took up his baton, and conducted "Prince Orlofsy", "Rosalinde" and the rest of the cast in Johann Strauss's musical romp.

Movie Picture
Placido Domingo with Dolores Elena Richardson,

President, Hispanics for the L.A. Opera

But perhaps most effective, and thrilling, was the collection of guest artists who joined in the party scene, like soprano Angela Gheorghiu (who joined Domingo for a duet from The Merry Widow); and her husband, Roberto Alagna, resplendent in an ice cream white suit, who sang the Spanish song "Lolita". Others operatic stars who worked gratis to support the L.A. Opera, included Veronica Villarroel and a fabulous ballet company who performed to the music of Strauss.

Movie Picture
Mr. Blackwell and Florence Henderson

at "Placido Domingo & Friends" Gala

At the black tie soiree, we were seated with our pals, Robert Spencer and the infamous Mr. Blackwell, who said he even liked my dress! Not bad from a fellow columnist who once said, "Why does Marci Weiner always look like she is auditioning for a Fellini Movie". We were joined by Mrs. Brady herself, Florence Henderson, who is now appearing regularly in a reality show no less! Her nemesis in the show, The Surreal Life, is Tawny Kitaen, which is like pitting Mother Teresa against the Devil. My moneys on Momma.

Ok - so you missed this fabulous Operatic Opus, but you will have a chance to redeem yourself if you attend the June 7th opening night of La Traviata, and the after soiree for the Ninth Annual Placido Domingo Awards and Dinner. Marta Domingo (who is the Director) and Placido will host this black tie event, which supports educational programs that reach over 100,000 children in the greater L.A. area. For ticket information, please go to www.hispanicsforlaopera.org. Hope to see you there.

Movie Picture
Soprano Angela Gheorghiui and her husband,

Tenor Roberto Alagna who performed at " Placido Domingo & Friends" Gala.

Another event of interest is the USA Today's Inaugural Hollywood Hero Awards, to be held May 17th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Their first honoree is humanitarian Zina Bethune. Zina is an actress, dancer and choreographer who founded Infinite Dreams, which teaches disabled and mentally challenged children to dance. Some of the celebs expected to attend included Martin Landau, Edward James Olmos, Ray Bradbury, Tara Lipinski and Stefanie Powers. The Grammy nominated Tierney Sutton Band will perform at the Gala, and the students of Infinite Dreams (many of whom are seriously handicapped) will perform. You haven't seen anything until you see the gorgeous and graceful Zina perform a pas de deux with her partner, who may be in a wheelchair. A most inspiring evening indeed.

And last but not least, "3 Men and Big Band" will perform at the El Rey Theatre on June 2nd to Support the Society of Singers. Gary Le Mel and Jerry Sharell, both of whom launched their careers as singers, but are best known as longtime record industry executives, will perform selections from the Great American Songbook, along with veteran songwriter Steve Tyrell. All proceeds will go toward supporting singers who have no place to turn for financial help during tough times. Another worthwhile event on the Hollywood Beat.