Perhaps Houston Grand Opera should consider hiring Richard Flowers and The Events Co. for set design. His team's interpretation of Houston Grand Opera ball chair Donna Josey Chapman's desire to salute HGO's upcoming Carousel production was magical.
As Donna and her husband, Max Chapman Jr., welcomed guests to Wortham Theater Center's Grand Foyer, flying horses circled overhead in whimsical carousels, each centered with a shimmering disco ball. Delighted first impressions were established on the red carpet leading from valet to Wortham Center. Guests, attired in their best white-tie-and-tails formality, arrived through a phalanx of topiary trees and carousel horses.
The vibrant setting was just the beginning of an evening that deserved a standing ovation not only for the $1.4 million raised (surpassing last year) but also for the appealing entertainment and the lavish four-course dinner by Jackson and Company. And let's not forget the Perrier Jouet champagne that flowed throughout the night.
In a tempting introduction to HGO's upcoming production, the entertainment began with 10 dancers performing the Carousel Ballet from the opera, and then moved on to a stunning original piece for eight, choreographed by Charlie Williams. The desire to secure those opera tickets was heightened even more when soprano Andrea Carroll sang the musical's signature "If I Loved You."
Few could have been happier with the results than HGO music and artistic director Patrick Summers and managing director Perryn Leech.
The dinner menu, exceptionally lavish for a gala, included baked New England clams for a starter; Maine lobster and foie gras brulee mousse for the second course; seared duck breast with rice pilaf, butternut squash, and haricot verts as entrée; and for dessert tiny white chocolate carousel horses prancing atop a chocolate confection and atop orange brittle mousse with caramel corn.
Once dinner was complete the Richard Brown Orchestra, which provided heavenly back up for the earlier entertainment, switched gears into a swing time dance band that had the dance floor packed.
The merry throng included Pat and Dan Breen, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Diane Lokey Farb, Susan and Dr. Richard Stasney, Winell and Doug Herron, Lynn Wyatt, Isabel and Danny David, John and Becca Cason Thrash, Omana and Sam Abraham, Shawntell and Keith McWilliams, and Kendall and Chris Hanno, who chaired the after-party aimed at the young professional crowd.