Diva, a new fund-raising group established by the Opera Pacific Guild Alliance, held its inaugural fund-raiser on Saturday at a black-tie dinner at Gustaf Anders restaurant in Santa Ana.
A special guest at the affair was opera singer Tiziana Fabbricini, who will star in Opera Pacific's upcoming production of "La Traviata." Guests paid $85 each for the dinner, and proceeds from the event--along with membership dues--will help underwrite a yearly appearance by a diva in an Opera Pacific production.
"Divas are all knowing," David DiChiera, general director of Opera Pacific, told the new Diva members.
"You are all divas!"
Diva, he explained, is the Italian word for goddess. It applies to the greatest female stars of opera, such as Dame Nelly Melba, Maria Callas and Beverly Sills.
"Our goal is to fund at least one diva per season," said Marla Patterson, chairwoman of Diva, who got the idea to form the fund-raising group. "I envisioned it as a women's group, but it turned out there's been a lot of interest from the men." Two men have joined.
Organizers set Diva's annual membership dues at $250--more than the $25 annual fee required to be an Opera Pacific guild member but less than the $5,000 contribution needed to belong to the guild's Impresario circle.
Diva membership will be kept to 100 people. The group, which has 60 members, plans to hold several intimate and elegant events a year.
The inaugural dinner was originally planned to honor Anna Moffo, a world-renowned soprano, but she canceled because of a knee injury.
"You've all been initiated into the mystic rites of the Diva circle--and one of the first rites is that divas don't show," DiChiera joked.
Everything else about the evening was perfect. Tables were draped in white and decorated with fresh flowers. Founding members received a red bisque rose at their place setting. Guests enjoyed a gourmet dinner of filet of beef with a red wine sauce and creamed morel mushrooms, followed by chocolate pecan and lemon tarts.
After dinner DiChiera introduced Fabbricini (a Milan beauty who speaks no English) and presented her with a bouquet of roses. She will perform the role of Violetta in "La Traviata," alternating with Cristina Gallardo-Domas, Saturday to Jan. 29 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.
Honorary chairwoman Elaine Redfield was also recognized as a diva for her contributions to Opera Pacific and the arts.
Among the guests were Bill and Laila Conlin, Harry and Shari Esayian, Petrina Friede, Irv and Gloria Gellman, Vic and Karen Hardin, Tom and Kathy Kalajian, Richard Owens, Russell Patterson, Michael and Joanne Sokolski, Ed and Diana Sterling and Gayle Widyolar.