The stars were the troupers at Wednesday’s opening gala for the opera season. The two leads of the L.A. Opera’s production of Saint-Saens’ “Samson et Dalila,” Placido Domingo and Denyce Graves, were making the rounds at the Music Center’s plaza deep into the night and long after many of the opening night patrons had headed home.
Guests were treated to a Middle Eastern dinner from Restaurant Associates and music from the Gipsy Kings knockoff, Gypsy Magic.
Estimating he had played Samson a good 80 times — he first recorded the role 20 years ago — Domingo said he finds performing the opera much easier when he has “such an inspiring Dalila,” particularly when it comes to the second act’s lengthy solos for the duo.
“You spend so much energy in that one act,” Graves said. “From the moment it starts, the singing gets harder. French opera is much more subtle … and this is such a completely physical role. But there’s a lot that happens in the music — the drama is so well connected with the music and vocals.”
While Domingo is planning for the L.A. Opera’s next season, Graves will perform in Philadelphia and then Detroit in another French work, Massenet’s “Werther,” with Andrea Bocelli.