People say Washington is a difficult town for unattached people searching for mates, but apparently the opera might just be the right place to find that special someone. Last week the Washington Opera received a letter that read: "As a single subscriber with a new subscription, I have two requests: First, that ... you not relegate me to an out-of-the-way seat. Second, that as a female subscriber you try to seat me next to a male single subscriber."

The writer went on to say, "I realize you have no way of knowing age, height, personality, etc., but I am writing to take my chances. A single lady has to take advantage of every opportunity she has. I appreciate your kind efforts on honoring my requests."

Such a request is not so unusual, it turns out. There have been so many similar inquiries that Judy Rybicki, the marketing manager, said the opera is contemplating setting aside a block of tickets for singles, with a preperformance cocktail party. "We're not a dating service," she explained, "but there aren't a lot of opportunities in Washington for single people to meet, and besides, standing alone at intermission is one of the worst things I can think of."

At any rate, it's probably a better place for finding a mate than a fern bar. Out and About

Gary Hart's friend Donna Rice has said all along that others have profited from the scandal that destroyed Hart's presidential aspirations, but she's making up for that very quickly. First there was the made-for-TV movie that is being negotiated with ABC, and now The Wall Street Journal reports that she has signed a one-year contract to appear in TV and magazine ads for the No Excuses line of women's sportswear. Who knows what will be next for the sometime Miami model? ...

If only Sylvester Stallone had listened to his mother. She knew his marriage to the tall, blond Scandinavian Brigitte Nielsen would not last. It was in the stars, Jacqueline Stallone says in an interview in Us magazine -- something about their chances being bad since both are ruled by the moon. She explains that "Brigitte was way ahead of him. She had the smarts. She has had a lot of experience. She is very worldly. He's not worldly." What her son needs, she adds, is "marriage Italian-style." She describes that as "a European wife who will cater to all his aches and pains -- he is a hypochondriac. Her job should be to give birth {10 kids who look like him, she says at another point in the interview} and specialize in acupressure, because he loves acupressure. Lift weights with him ... if she wants a little career, she should be a masseuse." What woman could possibly turn down such an opportunity? ...

Actor Matthew Broderick, on vacation in Northern Ireland, was in a two-car collision Wednesday in which two women were killed. Broderick is in the hospital with a broken leg. The 25-year-old star of the hit films "WarGames" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," was driving a BMW with friend Jennifer Gray when the accident occurred about 11 miles southwest of Belfast. Gray was only slightly injured. The other victims, whose identities were not released, were a woman reported to be in her sixties and her 28-year-old daughter. Few details are available since it is police policy there to maintain an information blackout until an investigation is completed. Broderick and Gray are not talking to reporters ...

Sean Penn is now out of jail -- at least temporarily, while he flies to Europe to finish making his movie there. And the Mono County, Calif., sheriff who was the actor's host for his five days behind bars said Penn was a model prisoner who exercised outside a couple of times and watched television. "He appears to be fitting in well with the custodial environment," Sheriff Marty Strelneck reported. "There have been no problems in the jail, whatsoever. No fights." Penn is paying $80 a day for the accommodations in the out-of-the-way mountain town of Bridgeport near the Nevada border to avoid spending his time in a tough Los Angeles cell. If he continues to be a model prisoner when he returns Aug. 22, he will get time off for good behavior and could serve only 32 days of his 60-day sentence. Meanwhile, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn has called for a review to see if the bad-mannered film star is receiving preferential treatment. His enticing question: "Are the rich and famous sentenced to serve time in the Sierras while run-of-the-mill lawbreakers must fill out their terms in overcrowded county jails? Is there ... one form of justice for average citizens and another for movie stars?" ...