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Diamond Horseshoe Ball sparkles with a 'Pageant of Jewels'

| Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, 8:02 p.m.
John Altdorfer
Former Pittsburgh Opera artistic director Tito Capobianco with Electra and Jim Agras in the Grand Ballroom of the Omni William Penn during the Diamond Horseshoe Ball to benefit the Pittsburgh Opera.
John Altdorfer
Event co-chairs Dr. Nicholas and Susan Loutsion in the Grand Ballroom of the Omni William Penn during the Diamond Horseshoe Ball to benefit the Pittsburgh Opera.
John Altdorfer
Pittsburgh Opera general director Christopher Hahn with Michele Fabrizi and Clyde Jones in the Grand Ballroom of the Omni William Penn during the Diamond Horseshoe Ball to benefit the Pittsburgh Opera.
John Altdorfer
Rose Kutsenkow in the Grand Ballroom of the Omni William Penn during the Diamond Horseshoe Ball to benefit the Pittsburgh Opera.
John Altdorfer
Ali Good with Dr. Lisa Cibik in the Grand Ballroom of the Omni William Penn during the Diamond Horseshoe Ball to benefit the Pittsburgh Opera.
John Altdorfer
Bill and Vivian Benter with Gabriela and David Porges in the Grand Ballroom of the Omni William Penn during the Diamond Horseshoe Ball to benefit the Pittsburgh Opera.
John Altdorfer
John and Nancy Traina in the Urban Room of the Omni William Penn during the Diamond Horseshoe Ball to benefit the Pittsburgh Opera.
John Altdorfer
James Patrinos with Nadine Bognar and Kathe Patrinos in the Grand Ballroom of the Omni William Penn during the Diamond Horseshoe Ball to benefit the Pittsburgh Opera.

“What an amazing 75 years it's been,” Pittsburgh Opera board prez Clyde Jones said as he addressed a glittering ballroom at the Omni William Penn. “And to think that it all started with five intrepid ladies who thought Pittsburghers shouldn't have to travel to hear a good opera.”

Having gotten its name from the fabled and bejeweled lower tier of box seats at the old Metropolitan Opera House in New York City known as the “diamond horseshoe,” the 59th annual Diamond Horseshoe Ball on Oct. 11 came with a swoon-worthy nod to the past thanks to a “Pageant of Jewels” on display from Joden World Resources.

“This is Rembrandt, Michelangelo, the best,” said Joden owner Joe Murawski as he showed off 13 pieces from famed jeweler Carlo Giuliano.

“We came and immediately said, ‘Can we go in?' ” laughed Vivian Benter (with Bill) as she, board chairwoman Michele Fabrizi and Gabriela Porges (with David) made a beeline for a 160-carat diamond tiara from the 1860s designed by Garrard of London.

Who can blame them? Apart from ongoing wagers as to who would be the first to get their hands on it (money was on Special Events Manager Sam Badger), little doubt was left as to how many stakes were being claimed from the likes of co-chairs Susan andNicholas Loutsion, Nancy andJohn Traina, Roseanne andMark Wholey, Jim and Kathe Patrinos, Sandie andBob Brand, Nadine Bognar, Dr. Lisa Cibik andBernie Kobosky, and Rose Kutsenkow. Another past-meets-present moment unfolded during the drawing for the Diamond Horseshoe Pendant, a tradition started by Mr. and Mrs. John C. Keppie back in 1947 (carried on by their granddaughter Heather Gorman).

“This made my night!” said lucky recipient Melanie Crockard (with Jim).

Rounding out the night was a reunion of sorts as General Director Christopher Hahn was joined by former helmsmen Tito Capobianco and Mark Weinstein, Resident Artists showed off their pipes during a perfectly timed performance; and event chairs Jim andElectra Agras were lauded for their decades-long support.

“Those who understand the arts are vital to the social fabric of our region,” Jim Agras said.

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

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