Claudia Jacoby, Pat Breen, Marcia Vilas, Katherine Thomasson — ladies in red in honor of Violetta
Beth Madison, Perryn Leech, chair Kristina Somerville
Beau Miller, Lynn Wyatt, Patrick Summers
Alfredo & Marcia Vilas
Beautiful flowers fill the convention center salon
Alex & Astley Blair
Terrylin Neale, Jerry & Bobbie Vee Cooney
Maison Violetta as interpreted by The Events Company.
Gabriel Castello, Celina Hellmund
Kendall & Christopher Hanno
Brady & Zane Carruth
A black-tie dinner by Levy followed the performance of La Traviata.
Betty & Jess Tutor
Decor by The Events Company transforms the convention center.
Margaret Alkek Williams, Jim Daniel
Danielle Ellis, Rini Ziegler
Ellen Gritz, Mickey Rosenau
Baritone George Petean, soprano Albina Shagimuratov, Kristina Somerville, tenor Dimitri Pittas
La Traviata puppet designed by Cait OConnor
The GRB second floor foyer becomes a dining salon.
La Traviata cast with Perryn Leech, Patrick Summers
The La Traviata dinner menu
Chorus members from La traviata
We doubt that anyone could have imagined that parts of the vast George R. Brown Convention Center could be transformed not only into an opera theater but also into a posh salon for wining and dining well-heeled opera patrons. The proof of such a feat was on the stage Friday night and in the lavish dining room created from what might have felt like thin air.
Applause, applause for Houston Grand Opera and The Events Company for working two post-Hurricane Harvey miracles in one night. The latter took place in a second-floor foyer with floor-to-ceiling windows that looked over Discovery Green. Here, the dreadful red, gray and blue color scheme of the GRB vanished in lavender lighting and over-sized LED boxes featuring artists’ renderings of the grandeur of La traviata, which opened HGO’s season.
Vast explosions of roses and accents of hydrangeas and other flowers topped tables in the space beautifully imagined to echo what might have been Violetta’s grand palais in Paris. Gold and red combinations in tablecloths, chiavari chairs and napkins saturated the dinner scene with beautiful coloring. Though the beguiling protagonist died as the curtain fell, the mood on this evening was celebratory as all felt the positive energy of the victory over flood waters.
As they headed to the dining salon, guests traveled through a phalanx of waiters offering champagne and wine while Richard Brown‘s brass quartet performed the spirited “Brindisi” (the familiar drinking song) from the opera. Later, a string quarter would perform music for the dinner.
Kristina and Paul Somerville chaired the opening night dinner celebration, though Paul, an avid Astros fan, was next door (easily forgiven) at Minute Maid Park attending the Astros’ Game 6 of the ALCS. He wasn’t the only gent that let the ladies handle the opera while they rooted for the ‘stros. Kristina, displaying her dual loyalties, complimented her Oscar de la Renta gown with a bejeweled Astros baseball cap. The evening raised $450,000 for HGO.
Kudos must also go to Levy catering for delivering one of the more memorable post-performance feasts, this one focusing on a delectable veal chop with dauphinoise potatoes and the “Camellia Cake” dessert which was sprinkled with candied flower petals.
Many of the ladies attending the black-tie dinner dressed in red, the color traditionally associated with Violetta, thereby providing an additional layer of vibrancy to the evening. They included Pat Breen, Katherine Thomasson, Claudia Jacoby, Marcia Vilas, Betty Tutor, Terrylin Neale, Margaret Alkek Williams and others.
The merry throng: HGO board chair Jim Crownover and wife Molly, HGO managing director Perryn Leech and wife Caroline, HGO musical and artistic director Patrick Summers and Beau Miller, Zane and Brady Carruth, Cynthia Petrello, Celina Hellmund and Gabriel Castello, Beth Madison, John Turner and Jerry Fischer, Robin Angly and Miles Smith, Lynn Wyatt, Rini and Ed Ziegler, Katherine Thomasson and Michael Talbot, Glen Rosenbaum, Dian and Harlan Stai and Clair Liu and Joe Greenberg.