Pittsburgh Opera presents Maecenas XXXI

Featured In: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By: Natalie Bencivenga
Published: May 18, 2015
Source: Read Full Article Here

English Rose: As roughly 260 glamorous guests walked into the transformed garage of the Pittsburgh Opera headquarters in the Strip District for one of the most anticipated events of the year, unabashed romance filled the air. Setting the joyful tone for this English garden were fountains, walkways lined with live boxwood, whimsical birdcages hanging above the glossy dance floor, and champagne glasses clinking like the faint chirping of birds. “We were inspired by this season of opera, which concluded with “The Daughter of the Regiment,” and that led us to paying homage to Europe’s countryside, with some pomp and circumstance, of course,” said Christopher Hahn, general director of the Pittsburgh Opera.

That energy cascaded into the main space of opera headquarters, which soared to new heights this year; each table set like a lush English field of flowers, with assortments of fragrant watercolor roses and hydrangeas from Hens & Chicks as centerpieces, along with tall violet-colored candelabras creating a warm, sensuous atmosphere completed by earthy linens from Mosaic Inc.

“We wanted to create a moment, a sunset into a dinner…a journey through the garden. I’ve never been happier to see something come into fruition,” said creative director and producer Martin Potocnzy of LUXE Creative. Added event chair Gabriela Porges (#SEENBestDressed in Oscar de la Renta), “I love working on this event. I’m selfish,” she laughed. “I love the Pittsburgh Opera and want to keep a world-class opera here. This is my baby.”

Guests enjoyed a three-course meal catered by the Duquesne Club as pop-up vignettes from Verdi and Puccini performed by Pittsburgh Opera resident artists delighted partygoers throughout the night before the band City Heat had guests on their feet during the after party.

And now a moment with … Marianne Cornetti (world famous mezzo soprano): Why is the Pittsburgh Opera so special to you? “I began my formal training at the Pittsburgh Opera in 1989. The training here gave me the necessary skills to be thrown to the wolves, so to speak, and I’ve used this training even today. Why does opera speak to your soul? What an interesting question! (Pause). I feel as though God has given me this gift and I wanted to use it, and I have over the past 27 years of my career. Your favorite role? Probably the one I am doing at the time. I love Verdi, which is what I am known for. Any advice? Never stop nurturing your gift until you decide to stop singing.

#SEENLoveStory: “I have an interesting story to tell you,” said Dr. Vonda Wright, who attended with husband Peter Taglianetti. “I was photographed in this very dress several years ago at an event for the SEEN column. I didn’t know this at the time, but Peter read the column (who would have guessed that?), and noticed my red dress. We saw each other out and he commented on how I looked in the dress.” Mr. Taglianetti adds, “I told her she was smoking hot!” Dr. Wright laughed. “SEEN brought us together, and our first official date was at the Pittsburgh Opera!” To see the dress that won his heart six years ago, check out Natalie’s Instagram @NatalieBenci.

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