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STAR POWER HELPS RAISE $1 MILLION-PLUS FOR L.A. OPERA.

Byline: Rick Mortensen Staff Writer

One fund-raising advantage L.A. Opera might have over opera companies in other locales is the ability to throw together a star-studded gala concert.

Artistic director Placido Domingo took advantage of his location and his position in the opera world to put together a splendid affair Tuesday night that mixed movie stars, world-class opera performances and a surprise performance by Sting. The event, which included a $1,500- to $5,000-per-person dinner and a silent auction, raised more than $1 million.

Glamorous film stars such as Salma Hayek, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Kelly Hu and Zooey Deschanel appeared on the red carpet before the event, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion audience shouted ``bravo'' after every performance.

Even with all the star power, the concert's high points belonged to Domingo. After an introduction by Sidney Poitier, Domingo and soprano Renee Fleming began the concert with an engaging rendition of ``Gia Nella Notte'' from Verdi's ``Otello.''

They were in concert dress, but the duet was fully staged and captivated the audience. There were no supertitles translating the Italian text, but the dramatic action was clear and powerful.

Domingo's second number and best on-stage performance was ``No Puede Ser'' from ``La Tabernera del Puerto'' by Pablo Sorozabal. The piece belongs to the Spanish genre of light opera called ``zarzuela,'' which is beloved by Domingo. He sang it brilliantly, selling the song with dramatic passion and wowing the crowd with the ``money note'' at the end.

After the Sorozabal, Domingo took his place in the pit to conduct a portion of the concert, replacing film composer and pops conductor John Williams, who shone during Nicolai's ``Merry Wives of Windsor'' overture.

Another highlight of the concert was lyric soprano Andrea Rost's seductive rendition of ``Caro Nome'' from Verdi's ``Rigoletto.'' Her refined tone, exquisite phrasing and playful use of vocal inflections combined for a brazen performance that matched the red shoes she'd chosen to wear with her black formal.

The last third of the concert was a hodgepodge of Broadway, jazz and high-class pop. Broadway and TV star Kristin Chenoweth showcased her versatile voice and considerable comedic gifts in ``Glitter and Be Gay'' from Leonard Bernstein's ``Candide.''

After a charming introduction by Hugh Jackman, Sting performed a tasteful rendition of ``Fragile,'' featuring himself on lead guitar, a rhythm guitarist and a percussionist who shook two handheld noisemakers.

Denyce Graves, who had already delivered a stunning rendition of ``Acerba Volutta'' from Cilea's ``Adriana Lecouvreur,'' sang Johnny Mercer's ``Blues in the Night'' with swagger and an expressive flair. The audience, perhaps unaccustomed to blues sung operatically, was less enthusiastic than it had been for the Cilea piece.

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Photo:

Actress and model Rebecca Romijn-Stamos joined an impressive roster of celebrities at the L.A. Opera gala Tuesday.
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Title Annotation:Review; U
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 15, 2003
Words:464
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