Even without the stellar $2 million in proceeds, Saturday night's Houston Grand Opera Ball would have been one of the company's most memorable. With the dreamy Don Carlos from HGO's upcoming production of Carmen at the dinner table, with Carmen, aka Ana Maria Martinez, on stage and with dancers in '50s-era bathing suits rollicking across the Wortham Theater Center Grand Foyer, it was a spectacular evening.
Philanthropist Margaret Alkek Williams, who studied voice and at one time sang in the HGO chorus, chaired the "Fleurs de l'Opera" white-tie evening.
The floral theme was her inspiration, a concept that led The Events Co. to create a grand ballroom decor with flower-bedecked wall coverings, silk flower tablecloths (flown in from France) and opera marquees done up in sheaths of flowers a la a Rose Bowl parade float. Even the massive chandeliers were covered in flowers.
For their first number "Sing, Sing, Sing," the prancing gents dressed in white-tie and the femmes in golden vintage cocktail dresses.
Distinguishing this evening from previous opera balls were two dance sets choreographed by Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Rob Ashford, fresh from staging last month's Academy Awards. He was accompanied by 12 dancers from New York, who will be performing in Carmen. For their first number "Sing, Sing, Sing," the prancing gents dressed in white-tie and the femmes in golden vintage cocktail dresses. The second set was the acrobatic bathing suit number, referred to as a pool dance, performed to "Stardust."
Later in the evening, Martinez took the spotlight, mesmerizing the 550 guests with "Seguidille" from Carmen and "Carceleras" from Las Hijas del Zebedeo.
Even the most jaded of black-tie gala patrons would have to admit that this was one exceptional night — a night that surely brought smiles to HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers and managing director Perryn Leech.
As a special touch, table settings included not only a massive centerpiece of flowers but also nosegays for each of the ladies, the flowers in the small arrangements the same as in the varied centerpieces. More than a few guests picked up on the flower theme. Joanne King Herring wore a garland of white orchids cascading down from her coif, compliments of Flowers by Nino while Cristina Girard carried a towering faux gerber daisy as if it were an umbrella.
Lucky Lynn Guggolz, she needed no flowers as she was escorted by Brandon Jovanovich, the towering and oh-so-handsome tenor who stars as Don Carlos in Carmen.
Among the beautiful people applauding the spectacular night that included a scrumptious dinner by Jackson and Co. and dancing to the Richard Brown Orchestra were Pat and Dan Breen, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Lynn Wyatt and son Bradley, Michelle and Frank Hervdejs, Zane and Brady Carruth, Carol and Hugh Ray, Cabrina and Steve Owsley, Donna and Bob Bruni, Carol and Mike Linn, Diane Lokey Farb, Bobbie and John Nau and on and on.
Look for upcoming CultureMap coverage of the beautiful gowns worn by the ladies attending the Opera Ball.