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Frances Allen’s Desert Roundup—Opera Superstars Domingo And Fleming To Kick Of New Arts, Food And Fashion Festival

Placido Domingo

Posted: Monday, February 29, 2016 – 2:19 PM

It was a Why-Didn’t-I-Think-Of-That moment, but Beverly Hills resident Barrett Wissman, chairman of IMG Artists, thought of it first. The concept is relatively simple; the execution of it is not.

The Palm Springs Life Festival has announced the first season of the premier cultural arts and lifestyle event in the Coachella Valley to be presented by Palm Springs Life magazine and IMG Artists, produced by Barrett Wissman.

The concept is to bring together a stellar lineup of some of today’s top artists, fashion designers and culinary superstars for various Valley events, at various venues spread out over a month’s time.

Last spring, the festival was launched in a one-day event at the Sunnylands Center and Gardens in Rancho Mirage and it proved to be such a hit that Wissman decided to partner with Palm Springs Life to present the first full season of the festival in 2016, with this year bringing together the Palm Desert Food & Wine festival and Fashion Week El Paseo.

The festival will open with a gala concert at The Show located at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort and Springs on Sunday, March 20, featuring featuring Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming and the LA Opera Orchestra, and will continue with an array of music, food, wine and fashion events in the greater Palm Springs area.

The festival will conclude on Saturday and Sunday, April 23-24 with a signature event, “In Vino Veritas” at The Ritz-Carlton Mirage, featuring the greatest Italian wines, winemakers and chefs and will be presented in partnership with, and curated by Gambero Rosso, the noted Italian food and wine guide.

“I am very much looking forward to coming to Palm Springs with the LA Opera Orchestra,” Domingo said. “The surroundings are absolutely spectacular ….”

More information is available at


There is a “back story” to the story about the Palm Springs Air Museum gala that we reported on last week. It’s an ironic and fascinating glimpse at how the world can change over the course of a half-century.

The Air Museum’s gala, held to support the construction of the Museum’s new Vietnam and Korea Hangar as well as honoring five of the eight still living Special Operations soldiers who participated in the battle for the Vietnamese village of Tong Le Chon, took place on the Friday that coincidentally was the first day of President Obama’s vacation/working trip to the Desert, where he hosted a summit of Asian leaders.

As with his previous trips to the Desert, the President flew in on Air Force One, which was then parked at the end of the runway, giving the spectators lined up along the airport fence a rare chance to take pictures of this magnificent airplane.

However, none of the civilians lined along the airport fence anticipated that the conference Obama was hosting involved delegations from 10 countries, all of whom had arrived on their own country’s aircraft; all that is except for the Sultan of Brunei who flew in on his own ivory-painted Dreamliner bearing his royal seal. This was a logistical and security problem making for a particular juxtaposition of one aircraft: tucked away, nose forward, on the tarmac adjacent to the Air Museum was a commercial jet painted in the blue and gold colors of … Vietnam Airlines.

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