Placido Domingo
Placido Domingo

A short story by Chilean-born author Isabel Allende has been transformed into an opera that will have its world premiere in Santa Monica on Friday, May 17, as Los Angeles Opera launches its Off Grand series at Santa Monica College’s Broad Stage.

Based on Allende’s “Una Venganza” (“An Act of Vengeance”), “Dulce Rosa” tells the tale of a devoted daughter whose father is murdered in a political uprising. Surviving the brutal destruction of her home and her own rape, she seeks revenge, but ultimately finds both love and tragedy.

Now a resident of California, Allende was forced to flee Chile, under threat from dictator Augusto Pinochet.

L.A. Opera General Director Placido Domingo will conduct most of the six performances of “Dulce Rosa,” and Uruguayan soprano Mar√≠a Eugenia Ant√∫nez performs the title role. Composer Lee Holdridge and librettist Richard Sparks wrote the English language treatment of this celebrated story. (And yes, there will be supertitles.)

The Off Grand series is devoted to new, eclectic operatic works that will be staged away from the company’s home at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. “Dulce Rosa” is the inaugural production. Tickets and more information at (310) 434-3200 or


Brand new CRUSH


Raising money has never been tastier or more economical than this year’s CRUSH, a food, wine, music and art festival featuring 50 wines, specialty cocktails and small bite culinary delights from 10 leading chefs, caterers and restaurants. Spend Sunday sipping and sampling and perusing cutting edge contemporary arts while supporting the locally-based, internationally renowned 18th Street Arts Center.

It’s a steal at only $45 general admission, or $55 for VIP tickets. VIP admission allows early admission for special wine and cocktail tastings and other surprise perks.

There’s live blues music by NBC’s “The Voice” contestant Orlando Napier, DJ tracks by Fresh + Sunny and jazz by the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts jazz ensemble, in addition to tours of artists’ studios, and a preview of the collaborative exhibition Interior Forest.

Partnering with Westside Magazine means that the focus is on sustainably grown, local artisanal food and drink. Participating wineries range from big to small including ONEHOPE Wine, which makes an impact with every bottle sold by donating half of all profits to different causes. Smaller winery Turiya Wines produces ultra boutique wines from the Central Coast and plans to present its rare, fine wines, both blends as well as extremely small releases of single cultivars.

CRUSH takes place Sunday, May 19 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for VIP ticketholders, and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. general admission. Tickets are available at; call (310) 453-3711 for details.


Forget sitting in traffic on the 405


The Getty Center presents its popular free music series, “Saturdays Off the 405” starting May 18, with a stellar line-up of bands and DJ sets. There’s outdoor music and drink, and the chance to participate in free spotlight talks that offer mini-tours of the galleries.

The series kicks off with Quadron, featuring Robin Hannibal and Coco O, with a blend of electronic soul, R&B and folk.

In June, Robert DeLong blends drums, rock n’ roll and layered sounds with body moving beats. In July, Pickwick brings an eccentric combo of folksy Americana, neo-soul, Grateful Dead licks, Tom Waits-style edgy lyrics and raw sounds. Also in July, popular indie-rock band Geographer combines analog, electronic and acoustic sounds for a unique mix. Two more artists will be announced for August and September.

Performances take place in the Museum Courtyard from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Entrance is free, and parking is $10 after 5 p.m. A cash bar and snacks will be available, and the Garden Terrace Cafe will offer sandwiches and salads. Additional information is available at


All that jazz


No longer an on-air presence, now plying his trade in the digital realm, KCRW DJ Tom Schnabel launches his inaugural Rhythm Planet concert on Monday, May 20, with Alan Pasqua at the New Roads School in Santa Monica. They’ll explore the history of jazz piano from New Orleans ragtime through modern masters like Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock.

Pasqua has long been one of Schnabel’s favorite pianists. He’s an in-demand artist: when not teaching jazz studies at USC, you can find him working with Elton John, Queen Latifah, Quincy Jones and top jazz artists like Michael Brecker, James Moody, Peter Erskine and countless others. But it’s his own richly musical albums and his finesse that have held his audiences captive.

It’s an intimate evening — only 100 seats. Tickets are available at; beer, wine and light bites are included.


Remembering Mounsey, Balanchine


On the 30th anniversary of his passing, Westside Ballet of Santa Monica combines a tribute to choreographer George Balanchine with an homage to its founder, Yvonne Mounsey, who died less than a year ago.

The Spring Performance takes place on May 18 at Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theater, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

A principal dancer with Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, upon retiring from N.Y. City Ballet and moving to L.A., Mounsey founded Westside Ballet in Santa Monica with the late Rosemary Valaire, and devoted the company to Balanchine’s techniques and teaching style.

“Serenade” was Balanchine’s first original ballet created in America. Westside Ballet will perform “Elegy,” the ballet’s final movement, using the original 1950s costumes by legendary ballet costume designer Barbara Karinska. Balanchine himself gifted the costumes to the company.

Also on the program, Mounsey’s “Classical Symphony” gently parodies Balanchine ballet conventions. Rounding out the program are excerpts from such classics as “Giselle” and “Copp√©lia,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Don Quixote” plus “Rich Man’s Frug” from Bob Fosse’s 1966 musical, Sweet Charity. Information at


On a personal note


I’m moderating a free panel discussion Thursday, May 16 at 7 p.m. for Santa Monica Farmers’ Market’s quarterly library discussion series at Santa Monica Public Library’s Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium. “Gleaning and Foraging” will spotlight organizations and people who find and share fresh free food that shouldn’t go to waste. Free treats follow the discussion. Find out more at


Sarah A. Spitz is a former freelance arts producer for NPR and former staff producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica. She has also reviewed theatre for

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