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Domingo pays tribute to man who built LA Opera
Peter Hemmings, who is largely credited with creating the Los Angeles Opera and also served in high profile management posts in London, Scotland and Australia, has died aged 67.

Mr Hemmings served as general director of the Los Angeles Opera from its inception in 1986 until his retirement last year. He died of cancer at his home in Dorset, the opera said in a statement.

He was selected in 1984 to launch an opera company in Los Angeles, and two years later the curtain rose at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, when GMN Artist Placido Domingo starred at the company’s debut, in the title role of Verdi’s Otello.

Now the company’s artistic director, Domingo paid tribute this week the Hemmings’ work: "It is to Peter's great credit that the Los Angeles Opera exists today," Domingo said in a statement. Now that the Los Angeles Opera now gives 60 performances a season, added Domingo, Hemmings had "proved that Los Angeles, which never before had its own opera company, could become one of the world's premier opera sites".

Known for his modesty and politeness, Hemmings retired from the Los Angeles Opera in 2000 to return to England.

Born in London, he studied at Cambridge University, where he was president of the University Opera Group. After graduation, he served as the first general manager of the New Opera Company at Sadler's Wells in London.

He served as the first administrator of the Scottish Opera from 1965 to 1977, when he became the general manager of the Australian Opera. Two years later, he took the position of managing director of the London Symphony Orchestra, where he remained for five years.

For the past 15 years, he served on the board of directors of the Royal Academy of Music in London, England, where he was elected an honorary fellow in 1992. In 1998, he was awarded the prestigious title of officer of the order of the British empire, and the following year he was appointed to the board of directors for the Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden.

Tue Jan 8 2002 (9:52:32 AM)