Society / Featured Parties

Houston’s Black-Tie Doubleheader Sets Passions Aflame

Musical Riches and a Record $620,000 Raised

BY // 02.04.18
photography Priscilla Dickson, Wilson Parish

From passion flower decor to passionate performances on stage to the ardor of opera buffs, Houston Grand Opera’s “Concert of Arias” overflowed with fervor for the art form. And that is just how Rini Ziegler, who chaired the concert and dinner along with her husband, Edward Ziegler, had imagined the black-tie evening saluting up-and-coming opera talents.

For the first half of the HGO fundraiser, eight competitors, narrowed from initial entries of 500, delivered arias from Handel, Britten, Wagner and more, showcasing their talents on stage in Stude Concert Hall at Rice University. (The on-going repairs from Harvey flood damage to Wortham Theater Center necessitated the move from the event’s traditional home.)

The musical riches bestowed on guests resulted in financial benefit for the Houston Grand Opera Studio as the sold out concert and late-night dinner at Hotel ZaZa brought in a record $620,000.

“This night has been a favorite of the Houston Grand Opera season because tonight is all about the future of opera,” Patrick Summers, HGO artistic and music director, told the gathering. “On this night we are gifted with artists who may have the potential to become the leading voices of the next generation. Investing in future talent is part of the DNA of Houston Grand Opera.”

Summers, HGO managing director Perryn Leech and eminent bass baritone Eric Owens, an HGO studio alumnus, appearing in the current production of The Barber of Seville, served as judges for the Eleanor McCollum Competition. After announcement of the winners and presentation of honors, it was off to Hotel ZaZa where “Concert of Arias” honorees Dr. Ellen R. Gritz and Milton D. Rosenau Jr. continued their evening in the spotlight.

Now about that passion flower. Ziegler, a children’s book author and artist, created the purple- and lavender-hued floral design that embellished the invitations, the program and even the concert video screen. Her personal passion for flowers was expressed in the Hotel ZaZa ballroom where banks of faux cherry blossoms framed the stage and where table centerpieces created a masterful floral tableau.

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Supernumeraries: Dian and Harlan Stai, John Turner and Jerry Fischer, Meredith and Travis Hedemann, Beth Madison, Pat Breen, Zane Carruth, Terrilyn Neale, Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black, Judy and Dick Agee, Marcia and Alfredo Vilas, Dr. Peggy and Ashley Smith, Glen Rosenbaum and Rita Leader, Jana and Scotty Arnoldy, and Sallymoon Benz and Dr. Alan Bentz.

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