Mimi died on schedule Tuesday night.
But, for everyone else at the glamour-streaked season's opener of the Music Center Opera, it was a lively good time.
"La Boheme" brought out the crowds--the brand-name business types, the stars, the jewels, the satin and lace gowns--even an occasional miniskirt. Just how prestigious was the opening night? Take the crush at intermission in the usually sedate The Founders room, accessible only to heavy donors and usually reservation-only. This crowd "hasn't happened in recent years," Founders Manager Dieter Jacoby, gasped. "At one point, they just poured in . . . . We don't have nights like this too often . . . unfortunately."
Seen around the room, Tim and Nancy Vreeland, Phil and Mary Hawley ("We are so excited. We feel wonderful," Hawley exclaimed, fresh from masterminding the successful split of his Carter Hawley Hale into two companies), Georgia Frontiere saying the Rams are ready for the season, "but we need a couple of linebackers, if you know any"; Sandy and Sheldon Ausman; Suzanne Marx telling Bram and Elaine Goldsmith that she was thrilled that the anti-drug program DARE was "going national" (Goldsmith is the treasurer); Fred Hayman and Betty Endo hosting the Goldsmiths, Kelli and Allen Questrom and Fiorenza Courtwright with Jerry Davis. (Over dinner, the beautiful Courtwright confided to Goldsmith, chairman and CEO of City National Bank, that she had "just deposited a humongous amount in your bank," saying she was thrilled to have found a local bank she liked.)
Enthusiasm was rampant, like that from Tom Wachtell, making his way through the crowd and exclaiming, "What I like is the people standing in the cancellation line and no one moves."
When the party moved across the street to the terrace of the Department of Water and Power (done over to resemble the Latin Quarter's Cafe Momus), Wachtell said there were hundreds of people to thank--but singled out F. Daniel Frost, chairman of the Music Center Board of Governors.
"He has been behind us during the dark days," Wachtell, the Music Center Opera chairman, said. "Dan Frost had a vision of tonight, because literally he has the vision that stretches to the year 2000 and beyond."
Dinner chairwoman Georgianna Erskine's successful vision of how to ensure a good time included several dance floors, music from Art Deco that kept people bopping until well past midnight, and a partying crowd including Ginny and Henry Mancini (off to Paris for a 40th wedding anniversary), glamorous-in-gold Felisa Vanoff and her husband, the acknowledgedly charming Nick, committee member Peggy Parker with a knock-out necklace and her steady Walter Grauman, Joan and John Hotchkis, down from San Francisco Maggie Wetzel, Cloris Leachman chatting with Joan Quinn and David Hockney, Rosemarie and Robert Stack, newlyweds Howard Ruby and Yvette Mimieux, Alexander Godunov and a miniskirted Jackie Bisset, Ernest Fleischman and Roz Wyman, the of-course couple Placido and Marta Domingo, Lennie and Bernie Greenberg, a dancing Harry and Laura Hamlin--and 600-plus other partyers.
The evening was underwritten by Wells Fargo Bank--which means that the party profited around $300,000--to be part of the estimated $2 million needed in addition to the $3 million the company gets from the United Fund and the 90%-plus ticket sales.
Totally sucessful night--except, of course, for poor Mimi.