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OCPAC Falls Short of Anniversary Gala Ticket Goal

Music: Only about 1,200 seats at $500 each have been sold, 700 fewer than hoped. Non-banquet admissions from $20 to $85 are on sale.

August 31, 1996|JAN HERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

COSTA MESA — The county's most prominent arts institution has scaled back fund-raising expectations for its 10th birthday party.

Officials at the Orange County Performing Arts Center had hoped to sell 1,900 tickets at $500 each for the 10th anniversary gala and concert to be held here Sept. 8. The event had been expected to net about $600,000, the officials said.

On Friday, officials said about 1,200 tickets had been sold and that they hope to net about $550,000.

A center spokesman declined to speculate about the reasons that sales didn't meet expectations.

"About 1,900 people was the maximum we could have sold to the post-concert dinner," he said. "But 1,200 is a wonderful number, and we're quite pleased with that response. The $550,000 we hope to net could go higher because we're still selling tickets every day. And that amount is already the second-highest for any center benefit in its 10-year history."

When the center opened Sept. 29, 1986, the concert starred soprano Leontyne Price with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta. The $250-a-ticket benefit party that night netted $1 million, the center's fund-raising record.

The 10th anniversary concert headliners will be pianist Emanuel Ax and, making their center debuts, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore and baritone Gino Quilico. They will be accompanied by Pacific Symphony, led by Carl St.Clair. The center has commissioned a work from composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez for the occasion.

The $500 tickets, which went on sale in May, entitle purchasers to the concert in 3,000-seat Segerstrom Hall, a preconcert champagne reception in the lobby and an alfresco post-concert dinner with dancing in front of the center's towering modernist facade.

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The post-concert dinner celebration, which had been expected to bring $10,000 to $50,000 per table, is being underwritten by private and corporate donors for between $5,000 and $50,000 per table, officials said.

"Our main objective has been made," gala chairwoman Catherine Thyen said Friday. "We originally wanted to net at least $500,000."

Thyen discounted the idea that bigger-name headliners would have drawn better attendance for the gala. She also said the unexplained departure in July of former center president Tom Tomlinson has not affected turnout.

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"I think the feeling the center has is that the artists it chose are what the center is all about," Thyen said. "They wanted a mix of established and next-generation artists. And that's what we have.

"Also, $500 a ticket is not an inexpensive evening. The steady pace of sales has not changed, and so much of the financial support has been coming in over the past several weeks that I don't think the resignation has had anything to do with it."

The center anticipates a sellout for the 10th anniversary concert, the center spokesman said. Concert-cum-champagne tickets from $20 to $85 are on sale.

Limited seating in the orchestra and first tier is available ($85), and seats also are on sale for the front of tier two ($70), part of tiers two and three ($30) and the rear of tier three ($20).

The spokesman said 798 tickets have been sold to the concert alone. Thus, a total of about 2,000 concert seats have been filled, or two-thirds of the hall.

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