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Pittsburgh Opera's Maecenas XXIX gala takes center stage

| Sunday, May 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
John Altdorfer
Gala chair Dr. Lisa Cibik with Bernie Kobosky during the XXIX Maecenas Gala at the Benedum Theater.
John Altdorfer
Maureen and Jared Cohon during the XXIX Maecenas Gala at the Benedum Theater.
John Altdorfer
Electra and Jim Agras during the XXIX Maecenas Gala at the Benedum Theater.
John Altdorfer
Gabriela and David Porges during the XXIX Maecenas Gala at the Benedum Theater.
John Altdorfer
Paul Gitnik during the XXIX Maecenas Gala at the Benedum Theater.
John Altdorfer
Nancy and John Traina during the XXIX Maecenas Gala at the Benedum Theater.
John Altdorfer
Megan Pitcairn, Rebecca Taimuti and Abigail Ploeger during the XXIX Maecenas Gala at the Benedum Theater.
John Altdorfer
Pittsburgh Opera general director Christopher Hahn with Michele Fabrizi and Clyde Jones during the XXIX Maecenas Gala at the Benedum Theater.

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 andGabriela Porges, Diana Reid andMarc Chazaud, Nadine Bognar, general director Christopher Hahn and Ron Booth, Nancy andJohn Traina, Eva Tansky Blum (accepting the Maecenas XXIX Award on behalf of PNC Bank), Donna andJohn Peterman, Arthur andVirginia Kerr, Dolores andJohn Barber, Paul Gitnik, Ali Good, Van Kaplan and Mary Jane Brennan, Drs. Loren andEllen Roth, Carol Shriber andChuck Snyder, David Savard, Dr. William andCindy Swartz, Gene Welsh andDavid McAdams, and Scott Westwood.

The event raised $250K.

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

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