The Pavilion is an impressive building with its 3,197 seats spread over four elegant tiers, its chandeliers, its wide curving stairways and its rich décor. The auditorium's sections are the Orchestra (divided in Premiere Orchestra, Center Orchestra, Main Orchestra and Orchestra Ring), Circle (divided in Grand Circle and Founders Circle), Loge (divide in Front Loge and Rear Loge), as well as Balcony (divided in Front Balcony and Rear Balcony).
In order to receive approval for construction from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Mrs. Chandler promised Kenneth Hahn that the building would be open free for the public for one day a year. The result was the Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration, a Christmas Eve tradition sponsored the Board of Supervisors. The program is broadcast on KCET-TV and an edited version of the prior year's show is syndicated to public television stations via PBS.
The opening concert was held on December 6, 1964 with Zubin Mehta conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic with soloist Jascha Heifetz. The program included Fanfare by Richard Strauss, American Festival Overture by William Schuman, Roman Festivals by Ottorino Respighi, Beethoven's Violin Concerto.
The Los Angeles Master Chorale, under Music Director Roger Wagner, was the other founding resident company at the Pavilion. Before creation of the Los Angeles Opera company, the New York City Opera came regularly on tour and performed in the Pavilion. One such tour, in 1967, consisted of two performances of Madama Butterfly, one of La Traviata, and two of Ginastera's Don Rodrigo, each with Plácido Domingo singing the main tenor role.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held its annual Academy Awards in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion from 1969 to 1987 and, according to the Academy's web site showing the locations of all Awards ceremonies, again from 1990 to 1994, in 1996, and, finally, in 1999.
Since the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Los Angeles Master Chorale have moved to the newly-constructed and adjacent Disney Hall which opened in October 2003, the Pavilion is home of the Los Angeles Opera and the Music Center Dance.