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Society / The Seen

Less Murder, More Love

A Kinder, Gentler Houston Grand Opera Makes This Black-Tie Affair Sing

BY // 10.26.16
photography Priscilla Dickson

No daggers, no deaths, no broken hearts as is usually the tenor of Houston Grand Opera‘s season launch. Instead, the opening night of The Elixir of Love provided a delightful prelude to the black-tie dinner celebrating the launch of HGO’s 62nd season.

As managing director Perryn Leech wryly noted, “Not such a big body count this year.” (As opposed to last year’s opening performance of a rather bloody Tosca.)

One might say that love was in the air as Mary and Dr. Mark D’Andrea shared their roles as dinner chairs with Valerie and Tracy Dieterich. The evening honored Anne and Dr. John Mendelsohn, who had won last year’s bid to conduct the opera orchestra in opening night’s singing of  “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Before the performance, HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers, enjoying a free night, mingled in the Founder’s Salon with the opera’s top supporters who sipped champagne and lightly supped on trays of cheeses and meats at specially reserved tables.

Once the curtain fell, guests flowed from the theater onto the tented plaza. Just as a hot air balloon provided whimsical transport for the protagonist in the opera, so hot air balloons were featured in The Events Co.‘s decorative theme. Rose-covered hot air balloon topiaries practically floated as centerpieces from each table while a video of a hot air balloon wafting through the clouds streamed across a back wall. Tony’s catering provided the delish dinner featuring a luxe sea bass entree.

The night raised $463,000, in part coming from auction bidder Connie Kwan-Wong, who won oversight of an Opera to Go! production; Marguerite Swartz, high bidder on the VIP Super Bowl package; and Jana Arnoldy, top bidder for the opportunity to conduct the orchestra in the national anthem at HGO’s 2017 opening night.

The chichi gathering included Michelle and Frank Hevrdejs, Robin Angly and Miles Smith, Bobbie-Vee and Jerry Cooney, Yvonne and Rufus Cormier, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel, Molly and Jim Crownover, Donna Josey Chapman, Birgitt van Wijk, and Cynthia and Tony Petrello.

(We missed you Rudy.)

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