By David Bloom and Reed Johnson, Staff Writers
For good old-fashioned Hollywood spectacle, it was hard to top Wednesday's season-opening performance of L.A. Opera's "Samson and Dalila."
How old-fashioned? Well, for one thing, the lavish Act 3 set in this production of the stone-and-sandals epic looked like the remains of the Babylonian temple D.W. Griffith built for "Intolerance" way back in 1916.
The after-opera party picked up the theme of Middle Eastern intrigue, with fake Corinthian columns transforming the Music Center plaza into a kind of nouvelle ruin. Waiters in white jackets and red fezzes scurried in obsequious single file, bearing platters of stuffed grape leaves and other delicacies.
Hollywood was generously represented at the black-tie gala, with a guest list that included Faye Dunaway, Jacqueline Bisset, Charles Bronson, Sidney Poitier, Kathy Bates, Angie Dickinson, John Schlesinger, Angela Bassett, Courtney Vance, Julia Ormond and Harry Hamlin, along with various spouses and significant others. Also present were artist and opera director David Hockney, dapperly attired in red bow tie and white dinner jacket, and ubiquitous culturist Gil Garcetti, who finds time to run the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.
The evening's stars, tenor Placido Domingo and mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, made grand entrances after doffing their makeup. After tearing down the Philistine temple, Domingo now will attempt to buff up L.A. Opera, which he'll take over as artistic director next summer after general director Peter Hemmings returns to his native England.