For opera fans, Houston Grand Opera's "Concert of Arias" is always one of the most enjoyable nights of the year, when young talents vie for honors and the $10,000 top prize. But last week's fundraiser for the HGO studio and the Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers was especially blissful — at least for a few.
Those sitting in the center of the Wortham Theater's Grand Foyer experienced a special treat as dinner got underway following the competition in the Cullen Theater. Houston Grand Opera Studio tenor Chris Bozeka sang "Oh, Danny Boy" in honor of the evening's honorees, Pat and Dan Breen. Anyone who knows the philanthropic couple knows that the Irish ballad is Dan Breen's signature song, one he sings to his dinner party guests every New Year's Eve.
While the couple was completely surprised and pleased by the song, Dan was playfully miffed that he wasn't asked to sing it. So when Bozeka stopped by the table to wish the Breens well, Dan egged the young tenor into singing "Oh, Danny Boy" in a duet. It was a beautiful moment that had several guests at the Breens' table teary with emotion.
At the next table over, "Concert of Arias" chairs Cynthia and Tony Petrello and their guests were equally moved. And they were beyond pleased with the event's proceeds — more than $725,000.
The black-tie evening was filled with arias provided by eight contenders. Soprano Madison Leonard was awarded the top $10,000 prize. Judging the competition that had been whittled from 450 applicants were HGO managing director Perryn Leech, artistic and music director Patrick Summers, and guest artists Heidi Stober and Joshua Hopkins, both HGO Studio alumns and both performing in The Marrige of Figaro.
Among those joining the festive evening and savoring Jackson and Co.'s late-night supper were Susan and Dr. Dick Stasney, Barbara and Gerald Hines, Peggy and Bill Barnett, Linda and Dr. Walter McReynolds, Bob Bruni, Valerie and Tracy Dieterich, Jana and Scotty Arnoldy, Molly and Jim Crownover, Beth Madison, Denise and Philip Bahr, and Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black.