How do you get opera buffs in the party mood after they've seen the tragic "Rigoletto"?
If you're the board of the Orange County Performing Arts Center, you ply them with pasta, Chambord-laced champagne and pray they will wait, wait, wait.
It was almost midnight--more than an hour after curtain--on Monday when stars of the New York City Opera finally began to trickle into Birraporetti's restaurant for their post-performance bash with Center donors.
Among those waiting patiently ( very patiently), kir cocktails in hand, to congratulate the company and meet their director, Beverly Sills, were Elaine and Bill Redfield and Harry and Shari Esayian.
"I guess it's like any job," Shari said of the company. "When you get ready to leave, it takes time to clean off your desk and put things away!"
"Well, opera is never over until the fat lady sings," Bill said. "So, there must still be a fat lady singing over (at the Center) somewhere."
Also tapping their fingers were members of the company such as Miranda Picken, a performer in the first act.
"Yes, I performed in the party scene," she said. "And I've been waiting here since 9:30 to help re-create it!"
But unbeknown to them, the reason for the delay was that another party was going on across the street, a very private reception in the Center Room for the opera's major stars, Sills, Henry and Renee Segerstrom, and members of the Steele family--major underwriters of opera at the Center.
"Oh, it wasn't really a party," said Sills, strolling into the Irish-Italian restaurant on the arm of Thomas Kendrick, Center president.
"Just a very personal meeting. I had been here for the topping out of the Center and . . . "
"And it was a chance for her to talk to the Steele family," Kendrick prompted.
Sills pronounced the performance "beautiful."
"I was so proud of the company," she said. "I was saying to Mrs. Steele (Barbara Steele Williams), that everything she saw tonight--everything created--was performed by an American!"
"Yes, it was beautiful, lovely," Kendrick added, smiling. "The kind of opening you hope for."
Let the second party begin.