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Pavarotti Will Help Opera Hit the High C-Notes

ANN CONWAY

September 16, 1996|ANN CONWAY

Forget the fancy sauces.

It's going to be chicken and pasta served up family-style for Luciano Pavarotti when he dines with patrons of Opera Pacific tonight at the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach.

Dr. Michael Dogali has made sure of that.

As Pavarotti's friend, Dogali knew the tenorissimo would prefer simple food over the elaborate fare prepared for opera buffs.

The opera superstar is coming from New York to Orange County by private jet--his own, with an anonymous Opera Pacific board member picking up the $30,000 tab--and a hotel suite is being prepared "so he can freshen up after his trip," an insider said.

Dogali is grateful that Pavarotti has agreed to make an appearance to help raise underwriting funds for Opera Pacific's annual ball Nov. 9.

"But first of all, this is something very special for us to do for him," said Dogali, 52, who resigned in April as neurosurgery chief at UCI Medical Center, citing worsening glaucoma. He plans to join the staff at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center next month.

Pavarotti will be honored at the dinner for his efforts to help children in war-torn countries.

"He is a very warm, caring man who has given a lot to the world," Dogali said. "This gives us a chance to recognize the tremendous effort he has made on behalf of children. He has a program where he has, almost single-handedly, raised funds for the children of Bosnia injured during the war."

Dogali met Pavarotti 10 years ago in New York through a mutual friend. A few months ago, Dogali attended a concert in Modena, Italy, given by Pavarotti, Elton John, Liza Minnelli and Eric Clapton for Bosnian children.

"When you get to know him on a personal basis, you find out what he is doing to help," Dogali said. "The real issue here is not that he is a famous man; we know that he is. The issue is he gives a lot back to the community at large. Most people don't know that side of him."

Pavarotti is not scheduled to sing at tonight's dinner. The performing will be done by Frank Hernandez, winner of the 1995 Luciano Pavarotti International Vocal Competition. Hernandez sings the role of Ping in Puccini's "Turandot," opening at the Orange County Performing Arts Center on Sept. 21.

Also on tonight's bill are members of Opera Pacific's community program department, who will perform an excerpt from "The Not So Great Escape," an anti-drug operetta developed for schoolchildren.

"Tonight will be an elegant but quite serious night," said Opera Pacific board member Kathy Wagner, co-chairwoman with Marla Patterson of the Pavarotti tribute.

"One hundred thousand children will see our anti-drug operetta this year. Pavarotti was very interested in seeing it because he wants children to learn about opera. And live healthy lives."

Underwriters who have donated a minimum of $625 to help defray ball expenses will enjoy a private, pre-dinner reception with Pavarotti.

At dinner, guests will sit at tables adorned with ruby and gold French tapestry and enjoy open-faced ravioli with chicken, filet mignon with roasted shallot sauce and Mascarpone cheese mousse.

"It is going to be one of the most beautiful parties Orange County has seen in a while," Patterson said. The dinner is open to the public. Tickets are $250. Call (714) 474-4488, Ext. 308.

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CHOC Follies--Orange County is going to have its own variety show, and it is a dream come true for Gloria Zigner, executive director of the Children's Hospital Foundation of Orange County.

"In my fantasy, I would produce shows, Broadway shows. This is going to be way off-Broadway, but it's still a show, for a great cause."

Scheduled for Feb. 7-8 at the Chapman University Theatre, "CHOC Follies" will feature local talent in a scripted show, with corporations donating money to buy "commercial time" on stage, Zigner said.

House of Imports in Buena Park has donated $100,000 to help underwrite the production. John Vaughn, a director/actor/choreographer for Southern California Civic Light Opera, is directing.

"People will have a theatrical experience the moment they leave their cars," Zigner said. "This will be a very professional show." Performers must be 21 or older. Information: (714) 532-8690.

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