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Arts / Society

Masked Beauties, Stunning Scenes and $1.75 Million Banked

The Opera Ball Soars to New Heights

BY // 04.10.17
photography Priscilla Dickson, Wilson Parish

Lavish, luxurious and lovely. Pardon me if I gush over the “Carnavale di Venezia” Houston Grand Opera Ball. With ladies in their best designer gowns and gents in dashing white-tie, all wearing gilded masks, indeed, the tableau was one of the celebrated carnival balls held in Venice’s grand palaces.

Backdrop to the glorious parade of humanity was the elaborate decor that transformed the Wortham Theater Center Grand Foyer into a beautiful old world ballroom. Brocaded velvet tapestries were hung from the ceiling, interspersed with crystal chandeliers while the vast space was draped ceiling to floor in claret-hued curtains. Images of Venice’s most iconic structures were represented in massive murals along the perimeter. And tabletops were centered with 18th century style marionettes surrounded by wreaths of roses and hydrangeas. Add the romantic notes of Mozart and Hayden, performed by a Richard Brown string ensemble, and the stage was set for the evening that played out to the tune of $1.75 million for HGO coffers.

Taking bows for the genius of the evening were ball chairs Zane and Brady Carruth, who selected the theme, along with Richard Flowers and The Events Company, which so deftly created the alluring mise-en-scene. The Venetian references began on the red carpet entrance to the Wortham, where a troupe of actors, from J&D Entertainment, costumed in grand opera finery (think La Traviata) welcomed guests.

While many embraced the masked ball concept, a few went to special lengths including Zane Carruth. She tapped designer David Peck to create a delicate mask made from the unused fabric of her Monique Lhuillier gown. Designer Victor Costa transformed the Venetian mask of his bride, Jerry Ann Woodfin Costa, into a masterpiece of red plumes and flowers, all to match her vintage Valentino gown. A veteran of fabulous soirées, Lynn Wyatt wore her golden, feathered mask, a Venetian original, throughout the evening in true carnavale tradition.

Reminding the 400 guests that the evening was as much about opera as about costuming was the rapturous performance by Albina ShagimuratovaHouston Opera Studio alumna who previously wowed Houston audiences with her role as Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. An Italian-themed dinner, compliments of CityKitchen, followed but not before a number of guests had found the raw oyster bar in the back lobby, a rare treat on the ball scene.

For these guests, the evening officially closed out with the performance of the Big Blast and the Party Masters from Atlanta, the band that had performed at the Carruth’s wedding a few years ago. For the young professional set, another party awaited. Stay Tuned.

Masked revelers: HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers with Beau Miller, HGO managing director Perryn Leech and wife Caroline, HGO board chair Jim Crownover and wife Molly, Bobbie-Vee and Jerry Cooney, Terry and Tommy Smith, Elizabeth and Ilyas Colombowala, Kristina and Paul Somerville, Isabel and Danny David, Pat Breen, Max and Donna Josey Chapman, and Carrie and Sverre Brandsberg-Dahl, chairs of the after-party.

Home, chic home.

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