Gala Bel Canto | Honorees
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The 2017 Bel Canto Award and Rebecca Thompson Founder’s Award Recipients

Plácido Domingo

Bel Canto Award


Plácido Domingo is a world-renowned, multifaceted artist. Recognized as one of the finest and most influential singing actors in the history of opera, he is also a conductor and a major force as an opera administrator in his role as Eli and Edythe Broad General Director of LA Opera. His repertoire now encompasses 147 roles, a number unmatched by any other tenor in history, with more than 3800 career performances. His more than 100 recordings of complete operas, compilations of arias and duets, and crossover discs have earned him 12 Grammy Awards, including three Latin Grammys, and he has made more than 50 music videos and won two Emmy Awards. In addition to three feature opera films—Carmen, La Traviata and Otello—he voiced the role of Monte in Beverly Hills Chihuahua, played himself on The Simpsons, and his telecast of Tosca from the authentic settings in Rome was seen by more than one billion people in 117 countries. He subsequently took the title role in a 2010 live telecast of Rigoletto from Mantua, Italy, the city in which the opera’s story takes place. In 1990, he and his colleagues José Carreras and the late Luciano Pavarotti formed the Three Tenors, performing with enormous success all over the world and attracted millions of new fans to opera. He has conducted more than 500 opera performances and symphonic concerts with the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Vienna Staatsoper, LA Opera, Chicago Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic, Montréal Symphony, National Symphony, London Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic. In 1993, he founded the international voice competition Operalia. He has received honorary doctorates from Oxford University and New York University for his lifelong commitment and contribution to music and the arts. He made his first stage appearances in a leading baritone role in 2009, performing the title role of Simon Boccanegra in Berlin. Since then, he has added several additional Verdi baritone roles to his repertoire, with appearances in Rigoletto, I Due Foscari, La Traviata, Nabucco, Giovanna d’Arco, Il Trovatore, Macbeth and Ernani. In recent seasons, he has also won acclaim in the baritone roles of Athanaël in Massenet’s Thaïs and as Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. During the 2016/17 season, he will conduct performances of Roméo et Juliette and Tosca in Vienna; The Tales of Hoffmann in Los Angeles; and Don Giovanni at the Metropolitan Opera. In addition to numerous concerts worldwide, his singing engagements for the season include Macbeth in Beijing, Los Angeles, Vienna and Madrid; Nabucco and La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera; La Traviata in Valencia and Munich; and Thaïs in Barcelona. In June 2017, he will sing his 148th role, Rodrigo in Don Carlo, at the Vienna State Opera.

Jo Bufalino Libaw and Shawn D. Libaw

Rebecca Thompson Founder’s Award

Shawn and Jo are the proud parents of Lauren, a classical singer, and Justin, a physician at UC San Francisco. They attended Stanford University and the Keck School of Medicine of USC where Jo did her Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine training and Shawn did his Emergency Medicine training. With long careers in Emergency Medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and St. Luke Medical Center they took great satisfaction in caring for their community. Jo served as Emergency Department Director and Chief of Staff at St. Luke and spent many years as Medical Officer of the Pasadena Health Department and Pasadena Fire Department. They taught as clinical faculty at USC and Shawn served on the Board of Councilors of the Keck School of Medicine of USC.


They have appreciated the chance to participate with many cultural and educational organizations, foremost among them the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, where Jo was Board Chair. They were frequent LACC volunteers and have loved having LACC and its friends at their home for events, recitals and general merriment. Jo was a member of the Bing Overseas Studies Advisory Council at Stanford and of the Pasadena Patron Saints Foundation. They are both members of the Parents Council of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Shawn and Jo were longtime volunteer physicians for Los Angeles Opera, where opera devotee Shawn had to restrain himself from conducting from his seat. He has not yet begun to unwrap hard candies during the performance.


Their favorite duties have always been in the everyday support of their children’s activities. Driving carpool from LACC to the Music Center, ferrying ebullient LACC choristers, they were witness to the original carpool karaoke!! LACC has had an immense influence on them and their children, both the one who sings and the one who thoughtfully critiques from the wings. It is well known that Jo cannot get through an LACC concert without a box of Kleenex.


They are grateful for the opportunity to share this evening with the wonderful choristers, inspiring conductors, dedicated staff and alumni, friends and families of LACC. As Anne approaches her final season with LACC, they want her to know how very much she has meant to their family. The 15th Anniversary LACC Gala was held in their garden in 2001. Tonight’s celebration of LACC’s great friend, Maestro Plácido Domingo, a treasured mentor and role model for all our choristers, brings Gala Bel Canto full circle for them.

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