The Valley Line

September 24, 2009|By Jane Napier Neely

Summer made its last hot gasp early this week. Yesterday, the autumn equinox began. In ancient lore this time of year, depending on cultural roots, can be called “Harvest Home,” “Mabon,” the “Feast of the Ingathering,” “Mean Fomhair” or “Alban Elfed” (in neo-Druidic traditions).

Of course the weather people can’t assure us that the heat will go away, but this is a thanks-giving ritual for the fruits of the earth and recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the God and Goddess during the winter months.

I do love the décor of autumn and certainly the trees when they began to show off their bright colors. For those of you who are planning holidays on the East Coast I’m sure you will not be disappointed by the beautiful foliage.


Now that I have discovered that some of my ancestors bought the island of Nantucket in 1659, for a few measly English pounds and two beaver hats, I want to go inspect the purchase made by those clever and brave people with the last names of Macy, Coffin, Starbuck, Gardner, and Worth — many of these men and their families are buried there and their tombstones can be seen today.

The hats, made by one of the Coffin men, were for the island’s then-owner, Thomas Mayhew and his wife. Mayhew had previously bought the island from the Native Americans.

Unfortunately, it looks like my calendar is jam packed with events and such so I can’t make the trip this autumn — perhaps come spring.

The social season of Los Angeles was opened in grand style recently when the Los Angeles Opera presented the season’s first opera, Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love.”

It was an evening when the men wore black tie and the women wore beautiful gowns and stunning jewels.

Before the bells rang to announce the first act, opera patrons and invited guests gathered for cocktails in the great plaza of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. A small section of the plaza was handsomely decorated with white couches to lounge on and crystal chandeliers placed here and there. The signature cocktail, also called “The Elixir of Love,” was a divine concoction of pomegranate juice and other ingredients for opera patrons to enjoy before being summoned for curtain.

What a wonderful beginning of the new opera season it was with this first opera that was full of fun, comedy and soaring arias.

Following the performance was an exclusive dinner held in the Pavilion’s Grand Hall. Milena and Milan Panic were honorary chairs of the gala celebration and Mary Hayley was chair for the celebration.

Before dining, Marc Stern, chairman and chief executive officer of the board of directors, welcomed special guests of the evening and then introduced Placido Domingo, general director of L.A. Opera, who in turn introduced the cast.

LCF resident Gene Stein is on the board of directors. Other locals involved in this production included chorus members Samela and Mark Beasom, and Michelle Fournier. Terry Cravens plays bass trombone in the orchestra.

Next up for Los Angeles opera lovers is the third performance of the company’s premiere of “Siegfried,” the third opera in the “Ring” cycle, which opens this Saturday at 1 p.m.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. E-mail her at

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