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Pittsburgh Opera's Maecenas XXIX gala takes center stage

Sunday, May 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The 330 guests of the Pittsburgh Opera ensured that the air inside the Benedum Center was ignited with the kind of buzz that keeps the conversation going for days on end.

On May 11, Maecenas XXIX accomplished many goals in a single evening, but one thing is clear: The bar has been set and, oh, how high it is.

Chalk it up to a fantastic vibe, ridiculously fun tablemates or perfectly timed flow, though much can be attributed to — and applauded for — chair Dr. Lisa Cibik (with Bernie Kobosky) and her steadfast resolve to return the gala back to the grand stage.

“It's been four years,” she said. “There was some resistance, but I insisted.”

Where to begin?

An official start time of seven o'clock allowed a pace that fended off any chance for dull moments or a break in the action. Meanwhile, a curtain shrouded the dining area as a wait-and-see teaser, one that proved worth the wait, thanks to Bob Sendall of All in Good Taste Productions. Soft lighting and nearly a dozen crystal chandeliers helped offset the cavernous space, creating an intimate atmosphere that was kept light and airy by the presence of soft florals in come-hither shades of lavender and white. In between courses that flowed flawlessly, a performance by Resident Artists was kept noticeably shorter than it had been in years past, allowing a showcase of extraordinary talent without losing the attention of Opera-lites.

Warding off any indication that the party was beginning to wind down, one note by the Nick Dialoiso Orchestra was all it took to clear nearly every table out onto the dance floor, proving so irresistible that not even a broken foot could keep Gina Pferdehirt in her seat.

Spotted were board prez Clyde Jones, board chair Michele Fabrizi and Myron Tomb, Lifetime Achievement Awardee Dr. Jared Cohon (with Maureen), Jim and Electra Agras, David and Gabriela Porges, Diana Reid and Marc Chazaud, Nadine Bognar, general director Christopher Hahn and Ron Booth, Nancy and John Traina, Eva Tansky Blum (accepting the Maecenas XXIX Award on behalf of PNC Bank), Donna and John Peterman, Arthur and Virginia Kerr, Dolores and John Barber, Paul Gitnik, Ali Good, Van Kaplan and Mary Jane Brennan, Drs. Loren and Ellen Roth, Carol Shriber and Chuck Snyder, David Savard, Dr. William and Cindy Swartz, Gene Welsh and David McAdams, and Scott Westwood.

The event raised $250K.

Kate Benz is the social columnist for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-380-8515.




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