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Founders' Oasis of Enchantment

July 02, 1996|KATHRYN BOLD

Party-goers found themselves in an exotic oasis populated by peacocks, flamingos and swans Saturday when the Opera Pacific Society of Founders staged its 10th-anniversary gala.

An Enchanted Evening was the theme of the elegant garden party, which took place on the lush grounds of the Lemon Heights estate of Terry and Patti Giles. The $125-per-person dinner-dance was expected to net about $100,000 for Opera Pacific.

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Birds of Paradise

"People feel the party's more intimate when they come to a private home," said Ellie Faber, Society of Founders' co-chair, who attended with her husband, Barry.

Upon arriving at the estate and cautiously navigating the flagstone path down to the sprawling gardens, guests were free to wander about the 4.5-acre property, with its four pools, aviary and gazebo. Many ogled the garden's colorful inhabitants, including a group of flamingos wading in a pond.

"They're not even plastic," one guest said.

White swans floated nearby, and peacocks could be spotted roaming the grounds.

"When we first came to see the estate, we saw the beautiful peacocks. One fanned its tail. That's how we got our [decor] theme," said Bogumila Basu, event co-chairwoman.

Mary Raymond, co-chair of the Founders, made gold invitations adorned with peacock feathers. Tables on the tennis courts were draped in white and decorated with towering centerpieces filled with white orchids and peacock plumes. Each woman found a jeweled peacock pin at her place setting.

Specialty Catering prepared the dinner--rolled chicken breasts, one stuffed with spinach and wild mushrooms, the other with sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella--and a petite medallion of filet mignon. Dessert was a chocolate swan filled with homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

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A Founder Remembered

The gala was dedicated to the memory of Maxine Gibson, founding co-chairwoman of the Opera Pacific Society of Founders.

"There's a saying that a friend is someone who hears a song in your heart and sings it back to you. This depicted Maxine," said Eve Foussard, event co-chair. "She had vision."

Maxine's husband, Robert Gibson, chairman emeritus of the Founders, received a warm greeting.

"You're among best friends," Ellie Faber told Gibson, giving him a warm hug. Robert Eichenberg read a tribute to Maxine, then presented the poem to the Gibson family.

Funds raised by the Founders are earmarked for Opera Pacific's main stage productions and its Apprentice Artists Program for young singers. Kim Allman and Max Medez, veterans of the instructional program, performed a medley of songs at the gala. Guests ended the evening dancing to the Sam Conti Orchestra.

Among those attending were: David DiChiera, general director of Opera Pacific; actor Charles Nelson Reilly, auctioneer; Walter and Geraldine Schroeder; Irv and Gloria Gellman; Gayle Widyolar; Bill and Laila Conlin; Lock Gee and Ruth Ding; Ledge and Ginny Hale; James and Nora Johnson; Russell and Ann Pange; William and Carolyn Klein; Peter and Mary Muth; and Maggie Murdy.

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