With a ballroom dressed up in velvet burgundy swags and lush tapestry linens, this year's Opera Ball recalled the timeless elegance of Old World opera houses.
A sellout crowd of more than 500 attended the ball, staged by the Guild Alliance of Opera Pacific at the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach on Saturday. The $175-per-person gala netted record proceeds of $300,000 for Opera Pacific, thanks to generous underwriting and large cash donations made the night of the gala in a show of support for the company.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday November 13, 1996 Orange County Edition Life & Style Part E Page 2 View Desk 1 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
Mistaken identification--An article in Tuesday's Life & Style about the Opera Ball on Saturday in Newport Beach contained an error in the guest list. Jeanette Segerstrom attended in the company of friends.
Old World Opulence
In past years, Opera Ball planners have thrown themed extravaganzas based on an upcoming opera production, with guests wearing lavish costumes. This year's event co-chairwomen, Marla Patterson and Kathy Wagner, decided to return the ball to its classic form.
"People were ready for the traditional type of opera ball," Wagner said.
"Elegance" was the operative word for the party-planners. Inspired by a trip in May to Monte Carlo, where Opera Pacific supporters visited the old opera house, the ball organizers recreated the romantic rococo style of the legendary houses of Europe.
"We've done lots of fluted columns, gold gilt and tapestries," Patterson said. Inside the ballroom, tables were draped in rich brocades and burgundy cloths and set with gold candelabrum and bouquets of red roses. Adding to the ambience: the sight of women in jewel-toned ball gowns and men in crisp black tuxedos.
After a champagne reception, held at the hotel's tent-covered tennis courts to accommodate the overflow crowd, guests entered the ballroom and dined on a gourmet meal served in three "acts": grilled shrimp with eggplant cheese cookie; salad with asparagus, baby greens, Gorgonzola cheese and dried cranberries; and beef medallions with truffles, foie gras and cabernet sauce. The grand finale was a poached pear wrapped in phyllo dough. In between courses, ball-goers waltzed to the music of Art Deco and His Society Orchestra. After dinner they were entertained by opera singers Brenda Harris, Robert Perry, Louis Otey and Richard Fredricks--all cast members of Opera Pacific's production of "Die Fledermaus" (opening Friday).
Rallying Around the Opera
The Opera Ball came just weeks after Opera Pacific announced it was facing a $1.2-million deficit. In a show of support for their local opera company, guests made sizable on-the-spot donations. Dr. Anwar Shah offered $50,000 if guests could match his donation, and they did.
"This is the time for everyone to rally around the flag," said Patrick Veitch, who as Opera Pacific's newly appointed general director was making his Opera Ball debut. Since coming on board weeks ago, Veitch has spread the word that the opera needs support.
"We've been getting a lot of publicity because of my coming and telling everyone where we stood financially," he said. "I've been doing breakfast, lunch and dinner all over the place."
Doing lunch yielded several large donations in the days days before the ball, including a gift of $100,000 from John and Donna Crean, an anonymous gift of $50,000 and a gift of $50,000 from Carole and Robert Follman.
"Tonight will help the bottom line," Veitch said.
Among the guests were: David DiChiera, artistic director of Opera Pacific; Floss Schumacher, the ball's honorary chairwoman; Fred and Kim Mozaffarian; William and Laila Conlin; Lock Gee and Ruth Ding; Gayle Widyolar and David Scott; Peter and Mary Muth; Robert and LaDorna Eichenberg; Donald and Eugenia Thompson; Irwin and Gloria Gellman; George Schreyer; Niles Gates; Mark and Barbara Johnson; Francisco and Hana Ayala; Benjamin Karcher; Michael Dogali; Walter and Geraldine Schroeder; and Harold and Jeanette Segerstrom.