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George Christy Talks About Remembering Pavarotti, Renee Fleming, Andrea Bocelli, Goldie Hawn and More!

Soprano Renee Fleming dueted with tenor Andrea Bocelli in a one-night-only performance, benefiting pancreatic cancer research with the Salk Institute, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

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Oh, holy night, the stars are brightly shining. 

As they were last weekend during the Remembering Pavarotti gala with two lauded performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.   A night when one of the world’s illustrious sopranos Renee Fleming dueted with the world-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli.  A house packed to the rafters with high-borne enthusiasms.   Los Angeles, you are no longer a dreamer on the outskirts of San Francisco or New York. 

Los Angeles is a beacon of cultural grandissimo with exciting opera, theatre, music, art, dance.  Young aesthetes find their place in the California sun and add to the exhilaration of our arts growth in this 21st century. 

“Hallelujah,” as Renee Fleming sang Leonard Cohen’s ode to life during the evening’s musical repertoire, which honored the memory of golden-voiced tenor Luciano Pavarotti with a montage of song-filled video clips that we’d love to view again.

How did this “happening” with Renee and Andrea come together?  Los Angeles’ pancreatic cancer specialist Dr. Bill Isacoff asked Barry Tucker for help, and help came to pass with both superstars.  “They had an open night,” says Barry, son of the late celebrated tenor Richard Tucker.    Dr. Bill was aiming to raise funds for pancreatic cancer research at the Salk Institute – that savage incurable disease that took Luciano’s life, as it did with Apple’s Steve Jobs, who died at the young age of 5l.    

Signed, sealed and delivered, with the extraordinary Liz Familian coming on board and organizing the night into a major event.  Bringing on planner Marsha Grant and PR whizzes Katy Sweet and Katy’s indefatigable Pam Giangregorio.  You may recall Liz as the publisher of the must-have Master Planner with its schedules of what’s going on in leading cities.   She also published Inside Events, for which we profiled new and vintage restaurants, and then launched her popular Biz Bash publication.  Busy lady, and a beauty, too.

The music was rapturous, with Eugene Cohn conducting, and cardiologist Dr. Stephen Corday assessing these first time duets as “fantastique.”

Renee’s rendition of George Gershwin’s Summertime from Porgy And Bess stirred heart and soul and will not be forgotten.  A native of Indiana, Pennsylvania (also the birthplace of Jimmy Stewart whose dad owned the local hardware store), Renee grew up in Rochester, New York.  Her thrilling soprano voice has embraced the great operas, theater, jazz on the world’s stages.   Her grandparents are of Czech ancestry.  And, yes, men turn weak at the knees looking at Renee’s meltingly beautiful eyes.

Andrea comes to us from the Tuscany farmlands near Lajatico, Italy, where his mother Edi and younger brother Alberto continue to live in the family home.  Born in 1958. Andrea was blinded at age 12 from a soccer accident, plays the piano, flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, drums.  A classical singer, he’s crossed over into opera, operatic pop and pop.

Concertgoers included Placido Domingo, who joined Renee and Andrea for an encore; the Salk Institute’s pancreativ cancer specialist Dr. Ron Evans; Jack Nicholson;  Goldie Hawn with Kurt Russell; Ambassador John Gavin with wife Constance Towers; Ginny Mancini; Steve Kaplan; Annette and Peter O’Malley; Jolene and George Schlatter; Glorya Kaufman; Eva and Marc Stern; Barbara Lazaroff; Ogden Phipps II with wife Ashley; Gina Furth; Jo Champa; Alexandra Dwek; Susan Niven; Karen and Gary Winnick.

Seated at our laugh-a-lot table during the post-concert supper were Liz Familian, Grand Central Market owner Adele Yellin, her associate Matt Nolan, Sandy Rapke, Alyce Williamson, Bea Bennett.

Now, an aside from concert pianist Byron Janis: “What an extraordinary gift music has given us besides its beauty,” Byron writes in the The Wall Street Journal.  “It has a scientifically proven ability to help heal both physical and psychological problems.”

Surely, a whole lotta healing’s going on for those 1,442 exuberant folks at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion during this night of nights.

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