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Opera Carolina treats guests to a devilishly fine gala

This season's Opera Carolina Bella Notte gala took guests to new heights. Or should I say depths, since the theme was “Faust,” the opera company's season-opening performance.

“Faust” revolves around a man who makes a pact with the devil for a second chance at life and love. Hosts James Meena, Opera Carolina's director, and Laura and Perry Poole greeted guests outside Blumenthal Performing Arts Center flanked by two models dressed as fallen angels wearing enormous wings. They were perched on large Lucite stands, setting the dramatic tone for the evening.

Waiters in white jackets lining the entrance offered champagne on silver trays. Belk Theater, where the dinner and dancing took place on stage amid the opera's set, was lit with a dramatic blend of flickering red, orange and magenta lights, created by John Lupton of Elements, that made the theater seem as if it were an inferno.

The devil himself appeared when Chester Patton (Mephistopheles in “Faust”) sang an aria from the production.

In a nod to the opera's French composer Charles Gounod, the menu from Porcupine Provisions was written in French.

Bandleader Peter Duchin and his orchestra made everyone want to get up and dance. Some left still humming songs as they were handed a gift of Faust cabernet sauvignon from the boutique vineyard Quintessa of Napa Valley.

Those not quite ready for the evening to end moved to the after-party in the chic VBar under the frescos in the Bank of America lobby, themed Alta Notte for this evening.

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