R S V P / ORANGE COUNTY : Hockney: Magic of 'Flute' Is No Fluke : The artist, who designed the sets and costumes for the show, credits Mozart but adds a dash of color to the reception himself.

Ending on a high note, Opera Pacific celebrated the opening of its final production of the season, Mozart's "The Magic Flute," with a post-performance bash that honored cast members and artist/set designer David Hockney.

Mozart's "Queen of the Night" (Anna Vikre) showed up without her crown, and bird catcher Papageno (Thomas Barrett) came without his feathers for a reception at the Center Club in Costa Mesa on Saturday, shortly after they had taken their bows at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The gala was held to thank members of the Impresario Circle, who donate at least $5,000 annually to Opera Pacific.

An Artist and His Muse

The star of the party was Hockney, who entertained the crowd of about 150 guests by pretending to smoke an unlit cigarette--his one-man protest against the Center Club's anti-smoking edict.

Hockney designed the sets and costumes for "The Magic Flute" in 1978 for England's Glyndebourne Festival.

"They could use a little paint," he quipped.

Dressed in a yellow blazer and blue vest that coordinated with his "Temple of the Sun" set in the final scene, Hockney explained how he creates his innovative sets:

"I get all my inspiration from Mozart," he said. " 'The Magic Flute' is a sublime work. The music sounds simple, but, of course, it's not. It's a work about the union of all creatures. It's hard to beat as an opera."

Halfway through the party, he could hold off his desire for a cigarette no longer:

"I have to leave now--I really want to smoke," he told the party-goers.

Power of Music

Guests also mingled with other cast members, who were difficult to recognize, having traded in their magical Hockney costumes for party clothes.

Soprano Janet Williams, who was Pamina--and wore a flowing white gown as the beautiful princess--was attired in a black evening suit and striking black and gold wrap.

"This is one of the most difficult roles for me," Williams said. "Mozart is always difficult. The music is very transparent--you can hear all of the notes. But it's a joy to sing. There's this inner passion."

David DiChiera, general director of Opera Pacific, told party-goers that "The Magic Flute" was a wonderful way to end the opera season.

"It cleanses the palate," he said. "My favorite part is when Pamina and Tamino talk about the power of music to lead them through the night."

DiChiera also said he hoped the guests had enjoyed hearing the English translation of Mozart's work. "It made it very real and immediate for all of us," he said.

Opera buff Liz Sliepka said "The Magic Flute" appeals to both the young and old. "It's lighthearted and a little bit of a fairy tale," she said.

Other faces in the crowd included Tom Hammond, president of the Opera Pacific board, and his wife, Karla; Gloria Gellman, president of the Opera Pacific guilds, and her husband, Irv; Ben and Pat Dolson; Bill and Laila Conlin; Gayle Widyolar and David Scott; Scott and Mary Lou Hornsby; Karl and Connie Bergstrom; George and Arlene Cheng; Charlie and Maggie Price, and Kathy Wagner.

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