Murder, Mayhem and Black-Tie Delights

Houston Grand Opera opening night soirée, complete with daggers, is a gala to remember

HGO's cutting-edge soirée, complete with daggers, is night to remember

News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Patrick Summers, Lynn Wyatt
Houston Grand Opera artistic and music director Patrick Summers and Lynn Wyatt salute Tosca. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Danielle Cullen, Meredith Cullen, Mary Cullen
Danielle Cullen, Meredith Cullen, Mary Cullen. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Susan Pennebaker, Ward Pennebaker
HGO Opening Night chairs Susan Pennebaker, Ward Pennebaker. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Phoebe Tudor, Bobby Tudor
Phoebe Tudor, Bobby Tudor. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Beto Cardenas, Norma Cardenas, Perryn Leech
Beto Cardenas, Norma Cardenas, HGO managing director Perryn Leech. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Pat Breen, Cynthia Petrello
Pat Breen, Cynthia Petrello. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Anne Mendelsohn, Dr. John Mendelsohn
Anne Mendelsohn, Dr. John Mendelsohn. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Kevin Black, Fady Armanious, Christina Stith, Tony Bradfield
Tosca's daggers enriched the red rose centerpieces. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Jonathan Fry, Kimberly Falgout
Jonathan Fry, Kimberly Falgout.
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Paul Somerville, Kristina Somerville
Paul Somerville, Kristina Somerville. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Sue Smith, Lester Smith
Sue Smith, Lester Smith. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Janet Gurwitch, Ron Franklin
Janet Gurwitch, Ron Franklin. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Kristy Bradshaw, Elizabeth Abraham
Kristy Bradshaw, Elizabeth Abraham.
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Dr. Mark D'Andrea, Mary D'Andrea, Valerie Dieterich, Tracy Dieterich
Dr. Mark D'Andrea, Mary D'Andrea, Valerie Dieterich, Tracy Dieterich. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Kevin Black, Fady Armanious, Christina Stith, Tony Bradfield
Kevin Black, Fady Armanious, Christina Stith, Tony Bradfield. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Christian Miranda, Ishwaria Subbiah, Vivek Subbiah
Christian Miranda, Ishwaria Subbiah, Vivek Subbiah. © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Patrick Summers, Lynn Wyatt
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Danielle Cullen, Meredith Cullen, Mary Cullen
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Susan Pennebaker, Ward Pennebaker
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Phoebe Tudor, Bobby Tudor
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Beto Cardenas, Norma Cardenas, Perryn Leech
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Pat Breen, Cynthia Petrello
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Anne Mendelsohn, Dr. John Mendelsohn
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Kevin Black, Fady Armanious, Christina Stith, Tony Bradfield
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Jonathan Fry, Kimberly Falgout
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Paul Somerville, Kristina Somerville
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Sue Smith, Lester Smith
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Janet Gurwitch, Ron Franklin
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Kristy Bradshaw, Elizabeth Abraham
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Dr. Mark D'Andrea, Mary D'Andrea, Valerie Dieterich, Tracy Dieterich
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Kevin Black, Fady Armanious, Christina Stith, Tony Bradfield
News, Shelby, HGO opening night, Oct. 2015, Christian Miranda, Ishwaria Subbiah, Vivek Subbiah

Only following a Houston Grand Opera production could dinner conversation so giddly turn to throat slashing, stabbings and suicide. And that was just the delicious subject matter that resonated through the party tent on Wortham Theater Center's Fish Plaza after the curtain fell on Tosca, the company's season opener.

The marvelous production, with voices that soared and music that bedazzled, sent the black-tie crowd on to dinner in high spirits. The swank tent, decorated with hints of Roman grandeur, was draped in crimson velvet, a palette that continued with centerpieces of deep red roses from which sheathed daggers sprouted. The knife a nod to the lead character's wont for using the blade — even in slitting her own throat before jumping to her death.

(A clever touch from The Events Co., which did the party decor.)

The opera tragedy did nothing to dampen spirits as champagne flowed and Tony's catering insured that dinner was as divine as the powerful Baron Scarpia might have demanded.

Opening night dinner chairs Susan and Ward Pennebaker took their bows as did family of the honoree, the late Roy H. Cullen. Representing the philanthropist and arts patron were his wife, Mary Cullen, and son, Meredith Cullen, and his wife, Danielle.

None among the 400 guests seemed to have been more joyful on this evening than HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers, who introduced the cast, lavishing the entire production with high praise. The $400,000 proceeds only added to exuberance for the night.

After welcoming guests, HGO managing director Perryn Leech sheepishly donned a Kansas City Royals T-Shirt, the loser of a baseball bet with friends at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. (The Royals defeated the Astros in the playoffs.)

The swell black-tie assembly included Cynthia Petrello, Lynn Wyatt, Molly and Jim Crownover, Frances Marzio, Kristina and Paul Somerville, Beth Madison, Diane Lokey Farb, Kelli Cohen Fein and Martin Fein, Anne and Dr. John Mendelsohn, Birgitt van Wijk and Eileen and George Hricik.

Heading their special table were Tenenbaum Classic Jewelers owners Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black with Christina Stith, beautifully adorned in house jewels. Tenenbaum provided the diamond dinner ring and cuff links for the prix-fixe auction. That yummy prize going to Denise and Philip Bahr.

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