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$1.3 Million Mirror Ball Thrills With Disco Spanish Vibes That Takes Houston Grand Opera In New Directions

Trying to Take Opera to All Corners of the City

BY // 04.15.24

As late as Monday, hearts continued to pulsate over Saturday’s enchanting/thrilling Houston Grand Opera Ball, which filled the Grand Foyer of Wortham Theater Center with a gilded throng of 450 celebrants. Perhaps it was the disco vibe inspired by the Mirror Ball theme that generated the energy. Or the verve of gala chairs Isabel and Ignacio Torras, beloved Spanish imports, that generated the exceptional enthusiasm.

Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard_Credit_Michelle Watson
Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard performs the ‘Habanera’ from Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ during the Houston Grand Opera ‘Mirror Ball’ (Photo by Michelle Watson, Catchlightgroup.com)

We also credit the sounds of Nashville dance band Universal Crush and the human disco ball bobbleheads mingling on the dance floor for their contributions. And then there were the magical musical interludes, which deftly brought opera into the Houston Grand Opera ball experience.

0037_Khori (Credit_Michelle Watston)
Ron Franklin & Janet Gurwitch, Khori Dastoor at the Houston Grand Opera Ball

At the start of dinner, young singers portraying the Trapp family children in HGO’s production of The Sound of Music entertained with “So Long Farewell.” Accompanying dessert was renowned mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard performing with the chorus the seductive “Habanera” from Bizet’s Carmen. Leonard headlines as Maria in the upcoming production of the Rogers & Hammerstein favorite.

The Mirror Ball theme was envisioned to embrace the reflection of the Houston citizenry that Houston Grand Opera embodies. Thus the $1.3 million raised on this evening, as HGO CEO and general director Khori Dastoor noted in her remarks to the gathering, is dedicated to community outreach, taking the opera to all corners of the city’s population.

Brian Dunham & Allyson Pritchett_Credit_Michelle Watson
Brian Dunham & Allyson Pritchett at the Houston Grand Opera ‘Mirror Ball’ (Photo by Michelle Watson, Catchlightgroup.com)

In accordance with the theme, The Events Company provided shimmering, reflective surfaces throughout the foyer where tables were interspersed with mini disco balls and lavish florals. The dance floor was a vast reflective circle — and tinseled chandeliers glistened overhead.

The Torras duo delivered a new approach to gala dining as they tasked business partner and executive chef Luis Roger, also from Spain, to create the dinner menu that reflected the cuisine of their two popular restaurants MAD and BCN Taste & Tradition. The menu? A tomato and cherry gazpacho amuse-bouche, farmers market passion fruit salad and sous vide grass fed filet.

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Dessert was a MAD favorite: the peanut nougat, Spanish wine and salted caramel bar. It was accompanied by gelato from Rocambolesc, the Torras’ gelato shop in Uptown Park that offers professional opportunities to young adults with developmental disabilities.

Next, it was dance, dance, dance.

Jonathan and Ann Ayre; Betty and Jess Tutor; Drs. Rachel and Warren Ellsworth_Credit_Michelle Watson
Jonathan & Ann Ayre, Betty & Jess Tutor, Drs. Rachel & Warren Ellsworth at the Houston Grand Opera ‘Mirror Ball’ (Photo by Michelle Watson, Catchlightgroup.com)

PC Seen: Houston Grand Opera music and artistic director Patrick Summers, Anne and Albert Chao, Tom Ajamie, Claire Liu and Joe Greenberg, Jack Bell, Beth Madison, Penny and Paul Loyd, Teresa and José Ivo, Betty and Jess Tutor, Dina Alsowayel and Tony Chase, Drs. Rachel and Warren Ellsworth, Ann and Jonathan Ayre, Dancie and Jim Ware, Janet Gurwitch and Ron Franklin, Myrtle Jones, Marcia and Alfredo Vilas, Dian and Harlan Stai, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Molly and Jim Crownover, and Ana María Martínez and Gaby Attal.

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