Sphinxes make opera lovers sing THE LOS ANGELES opening-night performance of "Aida," marking the beginning of opera season, transported guests to a time of sphinxes and sarcophagi.
About 1,000 of the opera's attending guests purchased premium tickets, admitting them to the opera association's fund-raising dinner held afterward Sept. 6 in the plaza of the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. Cindy Wiedenheft, creative director of Los Angeles-based EventWorks, along with Janet Elkins, president, and Ted Bowers, executive vice president and technical director, created the Egyptian-themed event.
As guests entered the plaza, they walked through a custom-built, 18-foot-tall pyramid. Inside, the pyramid featured authentic-looking tomb wall paintings.
Because of strict fire regulations, the tented kitchen had to be divided in two, flanking either side of the pyramid. Wiedenheft drew attention away from the tents by leading guests down a palm-lined walkway through the pyramid to the plaza. At the end of the walkway, Wiedenheft placed a mummy peering out of its sarcophagus. "Having the long, narrow walkway worked to our benefit," Wiedenheft says. "If you saw the [mummy] down there, you couldn't quite make out what it was until you got there."
Each of the 90 72-inch rounds, supplied by Rancho Dominguez, Calif.-based Abbey Event Services, featured a different centerpiece. Wiedenheft used varied combinations of flowers, natural grasses and golden idols to add individuality to each table. The Los Angeles division of Chicago-based BBJ Linens provided custom-made napkins of fabric with a hieroglyphic motif to complement the golden basketweave pattern of the table linens.
A short walk took guests on a long trip. As Wiedenheft says, "Guests were transported from an opera house in L.A. through a pyramid into Egypt."