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World’s Greatest Tenor Makes Society Ladies and Opera Fans Alike Swoon, Making His Texas Debut in Houston

This is No Ordinary Opera Party — With $660,000 Raised and Magic Moments Galore

BY // 10.11.21

As he began his United States tour with first stop in Houston, world-renowned tenor Jonas Kaufmann proved himself as adept amid fawning fans as he is on stage. Following his extraordinary Texas premiere with the Houston Grand Opera orchestra at Wortham Theater Center, the German native was the adored guest at a gala dinner in the Four Seasons Hotel where he graciously (seeming pleased to do it) paused for photos even during the meal.

As he told the cocktail-attired gathering of 250, “This was the warmest welcome. . . I was really overwhelmed by the audience’s unexpected response. How very crazy,” he declared with relish.

Kaufmann completely wowed the throng in the Brown Theater not only for his remarkable range and power but also for the (let’s just say it, fabulous) five encores. Under direction of HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers, Kaufmann presented arias from several of his most famous roles and in the second half of the program concentrated on Wagnerian pieces for which he is famed.

In opening the concert, Summers noted that it had been 600 days since the orchestra had been on stage and what a grand feeling it was to be back. The orchestral presentations during the program showcased the high talent of the musicians and Summers in a post-COVID world. To receive the music from the stage rather than the orchestra pit added to the immensity of the glorious sound.

For the dinner, Kaufmann shed his white-tie-and-tails in favor of casual joggers, loafers sans socks, casual shirt, a black tie and fitted jacket. We describe his attire because more than a few of the femmes in the room commented. Some even wishing for the opportunity to dress the handsome tenor. How lucky was presenting underwriter Louise G. Chapman who welcomed Kaufmann to her table.

Jerry Fischer, Beth Madison, John Turner (1) (Photo by Courtesy of Houston Grand Opera)
Jerry Fischer, Beth Madison, John Turner at Houston Grand Opera’s ‘An Evening with Jonas Kaufmann’ (Photo courtesy of Houston Grand Opera)

While this was a very special night for opera fans, it was also for Kaufmann. It was his first sampling of Texas pecan pie. Plus HGO’s new general director and CEO Khori Dastoor presented the opera great with a pair of Texas-shaped cufflinks from Houston’s own Max Lang Belts & Buckles.

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There could not have been a better return to the Wortham for Houston Grand Opera. In addition to Kaufmann’s brilliant performance and the orchestra at its best, the concert and dinner raised more than $660,000 for HGO coffers.

PC Seen: Generous underwriters Terrylin G. Neale, Margaret Alkek Williams, Lynne Bentsen, Beth Madison, and Sara Morgan, plus Molly and Jim Crownover, Jennifer and Benjamin Fink, Janet Gurwitch and Ron Franklin, Rebecca Rabinow and Matt Ringel, Glen Rosenbam, Teresa and José Ivo, Brenda and Marc Watts, Janiece Longoria Lasher, Phoebe Tudor, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Beau Miller, Richard Liebman, and Dianne and Fred Burns.

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