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Downtown L.A.'s sumptuous Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home to the L.A. Opera, has aged more beautifully than most civic buildings from the 1960s. Its 3,197 seats -- many of them good ones -- are set in four tiers, and concertgoers reach the upper sections by gliding up enormous curving stairways that seem borrowed from a Golden Era movie. The former site of the Academy Awards, the Dorothy Chandler features a towering lobby with massive, pendant-style crystal chandeliers and upper-story picture windows that offer fine views of downtown. The interior is drenched in gold tones that some say make the dressed-up crowds look even more refined. A number of beautiful, spacious hallways and carpeted interior plazas are used as gathering spots by patrons who mill around with drinks during intermissions or after a performance -- room-like spaces that double as pricey wedding venues. The Dorothy Chandler's grand entryway opens to a popular above-street-level outdoor plaza with a splashing fountain, where, before the show, patrons eat takeout salads and cheese plates from the plaza's Spotlight Cafe. Others try for a table at the more formal Pinot Grill or, downstairs, Kendall's Brasserie & Bar.

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