Party Watch

Houston Grand Opera celebrates an extra-special opening night at 'Maison Violetta'

Houston Grand Opera celebrates an extra-special opening night

Albina Shagimuratova, Kristina Somerville at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Albina Shagimuratova, Kristina Somerville. Photo by Wilson Parish
Jana and Scotty Arnoldy at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Scotty and Jana Arnoldly. Photo by Wilson Parish
Maison Violetta at Houston Grand Opera opening night
A second-floor foyer at the George R. Brown Convention Center was transformed into "Maison Violetta." Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Claire Liu and Joe Greenberg at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Claire Liu, Joe Greenberg. Photo by Wilson Parish
Patrick Summers, Perryn Leech at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
HGO managing director Perryn Leech, in reflective safety vest, welcomes patrons and guests as HGO aristic and music director Patrick Summers looks on. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Andrew Bowen, Efraín Corzo at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Andrew Bowen, Efrain Corzo. Photo by Wilson Parish
Carrie and Sverre Brandsburg-Dahl at Houston Grand Opera 2017
Sverre Brandsburg-Dahl, Carrie Brandsburg-Dahl. Photo by Wilson Parish
Katherine Thomasson and Michael Talbot at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Katherine Thomasson, Michael Talbot. Photo by Wilson Parish
La Traviata chorus at Houston Grand Opera opening night
La Traviata chorus members. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Sara and Gabriel Loperena at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Sara Loperena, Gabriel Loperena. Photo by Wilson Parish
Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017, Patrick Summers, Lynn Wyatt, Cynthia Petrello, Beau Miller
Patrick Summers, Lynn Wyatt, Cynthia Petrello, Beau Miller. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Margaret Alkek Williams, Courtney and Bill Toomey at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Margaret Alkek Williams, Bill Toomey, Courtney Toomey. Photo by Priscilla Dickson
Albina Shagimuratova, Kristina Somerville at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Jana and Scotty Arnoldy at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Maison Violetta at Houston Grand Opera opening night
Claire Liu and Joe Greenberg at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Patrick Summers, Perryn Leech at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Andrew Bowen, Efraín Corzo at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Carrie and Sverre Brandsburg-Dahl at Houston Grand Opera 2017
Katherine Thomasson and Michael Talbot at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
La Traviata chorus at Houston Grand Opera opening night
Sara and Gabriel Loperena at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017
Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017, Patrick Summers, Lynn Wyatt, Cynthia Petrello, Beau Miller
Margaret Alkek Williams, Courtney and Bill Toomey at Houston Grand Opera opening night 2017

What: Houston Grand Opera 2017–2018 Season Opening Night Dinner Celebration.

Where: George R. Brown Convention Center.

The scoop:  ​With the Wortham Theater Center closed for repairs due to flooding from Hurricane Harvey, Houston Grand Opera opened its 63rd season with a new production of La Traviata in a transformed exhibition hall dubbed "Resilience Theater." Afterwards, more than 400 black-tie patrons and cast members celebrated in a specially-decorated space called "Maison Violetta."

The second floor foyer, with floor-to-ceiling windows windows overlooking Discovery Green, was draped with jewel-tone fabric to resemble the dining room of a Paris mansion, inspired by the surroundings of the opera's main character, Violetta Valéry, and decorated with huge vases of multi-colored flowers.

The dinner, provided by the convention center's caterer Levy’s, was topped off with a Camellia Cake dessert sprinkled with candied rose petal garnish —a nod to Violetta’s wilting flower. 

HGO  managing director Perryn Leech, with a reflective safety vest over his white dinner jacket, welcomed patrons and noted the herculean efforts to relocate the opera to its temporary home in less than two months. Artistic and music director Patrick Summers introduced the cast, led by soprano Albina Shagimuratova, tenor Dimitri Pittas, and baritone George Petean, to enthusiastic applause.

Kristina Somerville, who chaired the opening night dinner with husband Paul, gave a nod to the Houston Astros, who were playing at nearby Minute Maid Park in a must-win game against the New York Yankees at the same time, by wearing an Astros cap with her ball gown. The dinner raised more than $450,000.

Who: Celebrating the HGO accomplishment were Mayor Sylvester Turner, HGO board chairman James Crownover and wife Molly, Zane and Brady Carruth, Pat Breen, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Celina Hellmund and Gabriel Castello, Beth Madison, John Turner and Jerry Fischer, Franci Neely, Robin Angly and Miles Smith, Bobbie-Vee and Jerry Cooney, Sallymoon Benz, Rini and Ed Ziegler, Sara and Gabriel Loperena, Katherine Thomasson and Michael Talbot, Claire Liu and Joe Greenberg, Glen Rosenbaum, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel, and Lynn Wyatt.