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Maecenas XXV

| Monday, May 18, 2009

Bravissime, Bravissime!! All the world's a stage, m'dears, and on Saturday evening, we were lucky enough to stand on one of the most magnificent of them all for the Pittsburgh Opera's Maecenas Gala, where chairs William and Dr. Saundra Stout orchestrated a glorious evening that officially waved the baton on the season and bowed to two of the grandest of dames.

Mezzo-soprano (and Butler County native) Marianne Cornetti , whose majestic voice sent our spirits soaring straight to heaven's gate and held us there until we floated softly back down to earth on the wings of her last note, was honored with the Renaissance Award, while Nadine Bognar received the first and only Lifetime Achievement Award for her tireless dedication and unwavering support of the stage.

Afterwards, chorus master Mark Trawka and the fantabulous resident artists set a spectacular tone performing scenes from 25 of the greatest operas that ended with a roaring applause and a sentimental sendoff from General Director Christopher Hahn who officially closed the curtain on their tenure here. "Thank you! We love you! Goodbye!"

Oh, it simply was an evening wrapped in glorious elegance; there truly is no sight more breathtaking than casting your gaze upon the extraordinary opulence of the Benedum, so exhilarating that you can feel an electrifying chill race through your body the moment you step inside. Twenty-five dozen red roses for a command performance that ensures this dazzling jewel in our cultural crown will continue to delight us with extraordinary opera productions year after year.

Amongst the 350 enjoying the view from the best seat in the house were Dr. Lisa Cibik and Bernie Kobosky; Jim and Electra Agras; Sandra Bettor; Joseph, Louis and Nicklaus Cornetti; David Savard; John and Dolores Barber; Alan and Susan Crittenden; John and Virginia DiPucci; Joe and Carol Massaro; Mary Anne and Vic Papale; Loren and Ellen Roth; Frank and Athena Sarris; Marsetta and Richard Schweiger; Bonnie and Dr. John Kristofic; Jean and Charlie Horne; Mark and Roseanne Wholey; Jim and Melanie Crockard; Gail Novak and Steve Mosites; Paul Gitnik; and Cameron Patrick Neth. We also have to give a special nod to Music Director Antony Walker , whose inbound flight was unfortunately stranded on the tarmac in D.C.

Amazing Grace

"This dinner allows Catholic Charities to provide help and create hope that is so desperately needed. So let us eagerly respond to our Christian call to service, and while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all."

Bishop David A. Zubik and more than 700 guests celebrated the goodwill of the community during the 27th Annual Bishop's Dinner for Catholic Charities at the Westin on Friday, raising $450K for our neighbors who need it the most.

Recognizing those who are doing their part to make our corner of the world a little brighter, we honored Jones Day's John Goetz, Our Hearts to Your Soles founders Matthew and Laura Conti, WTAE's Mike Clark, and the Rev. John McCaffrey of Sts. John and Paul Parish each with a Caritas (Latin for "charity") Award.

Lauding the Mission to Greatness were co-chairs Louis and Jean Astorino, prez Mark Shepard with Carol, director Susan Rauscher, Patrick and Andrea Molyneaux, Hoddy and Mary Anne Hanna, Mickey and Kaya Pohl, Bishop William J. Winter, and William and Barbara Batz.

Quiet• Oh, Please!

It isn't every Friday that you can enjoy sipping a Cosmo while standing in the company of Ernest Hemmingway, Edgar Allan Poe and Virginia Woolf, but 200-plus bookworms had an absolute blast socializing amongst the shelves during the Deconstruction Party at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, East Liberty.

On June 13th, the branch will close for an extensive, 15-month renovation and expansion, but before saying sayonara, we young and not-so-restless enjoyed checking out this instant classic (note to CLP: more of these, please!) that had us dancing the sledgehammer swing to the spins of DJs Nate Da Phat Barber and Carla Leininger well into the next chapter of our evening.

Hard hatters included co-chairs Tori Mistick and Molly Dorrance, Mary Frances Cooper, Jerome Funder White, Sam Badger, Lee Morris, Emily Nordquist, Ben Harrell, Karlyn Voss and Dan Iddings.

Dressed for Success

The suits came marching in two by two on Wednesday evening as we rolled out the racks and hung (haha) around at the Renaissance Hotel for the Women's Center & Shelter's Spring Clothes Out , where 220 arrived carrying armfuls of corporate apparel for hundreds of clients who are either starting out or continuing with their careers.

Now this is what we call ready to wear! Not an empty hanger in sight as more than 1,000 pieces turned the conference room into a veritable walk-in closet. Think that's impressive• Try this on for size; the fashionable fete also snagged $80K.

Ironing out the details were board prexy Linda Their, honorary chair Diane Holder, Maris Ann Bondi, Ranny and Jay Ferguson, Bernadette Smith, Karen Craig, Cheryl Zarewicz, Bonnie Rubin and Cynthia Tonet-Stewart.


Lights flashing and sirens wailing, the ambulance doors burst open as paramedics prepped a patient who had gone into cardiac arrest for the ER, but before we could say "Stat!" we were rushed off to the maternity ward just in time to watch the birth of a healthy baby boy.

We spent Thursday evening feeling as though we were interns on rotation (my heart is still beating a mile a minute!) as we toured the Western Pennsylvania Hospital's newly renovated School of Nursing, where the highlight of our evening included a tour of the awe-inspiring Simulation, Teaching and Academic Research (STAR) Center, a virtual hospital where lifelike mannequin patients that speak, breathe, cough, mimic symptoms and even go into distress provide students with realistic, hands-on training.

Reaching for a stethoscope were WPH prexy Dawn Gideon, WPH Foundation prexy B.J. Leber and board chair Sandra Usher, School of Nursing director Nancy Cobb, David Burstin, Dr. Alan Lantzy, Douglas H. "Woody" Ostrow, Dr. David Lerberg and Helen and Gerd Mueller.

SmARTy Paints

Neither rush hour, nor rain, nor an impromptu torrent of hail the size of gumballs (so much for those May flowers!) could keep 1,800 of us from painting a pretty picture Monday evening to Celebrate Life, Celebrate Art during Persad Center 's 21st annual art auction at the Carnegie Museum, where we were going once, going twice, sold!, bidding on original designs from more than 230 artists and raising $220K for the Center's Free Care Fund.

Outside it was dreary, but inside, we were cheery; toasting old friends while perusing an everything-under-the-sun offering from traditional paintings to modern, quirky sculptures and sketches.

Amongst the smarty paints were board prez Dave Sufrin and co-chairs Cristina Battaglia and Joe Seletyn ; along with Deborah Hughes, Joy Sato, Richard Parsakian, Jason Kollar, Bobby Altimore, Peter Karlovich and Steve Herforth.

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