It was a rough night for the Venetian court when Othello was tricked into believing that Desdemona was unfaithful. Murder, mayhem and suicide ensued on stage at Wortham Theater Center as Houston Grand Opera opened its season with Verdi's Otello.
The drama of the Shakespearean tale was soon put aside by 400 black-tie attired guests, who left the tragedy behind to celebrate the opening of HGO's 60th season. The late-night gala dinner took place in a lavishly-decorated party tent on Fish Plaza in front of the Wortham.
The grand night was made even more grand by announcement that HGO's Inspiring Performance campaign had reached its goal of $165 million.
Alex and Astley Blair chaired the evening in which the opera cast joined patrons in raising champagne glasses while in turn raising $432,000 for the opera company.
The grand night was made even more grand by announcement from the stage before the curtain rose that HGO's Inspiring Performance campaign had reached its goal of $165 million. That announcement was made by HGO board chair Dr. John Mendelsohn, who also introduced the night's celebrity conductor Ralph Burch. He had been the high bidder at last spring's opera ball on the opportunity to conduct the HGO orchestra in the "National Anthem."
Once the program got rolling in the party tent, HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers and managing director Perryn Leech presented British opera director John Cox with the Silver Rose Award in appreciation of his four decades of artistic contributions to HGO.
Among the performers joining the dinner was Ailyn Perez (Desdemona) wearing a gown created specially for her by David Peck.
Sitting down for the gala dinner by Tony's were Donna and Bob Bruni, Lynn Wyatt, Jana and Scotty Arnoldy, Janiece Longoria and Steve Lasher, Pat and Dan Breen, Dr. Lynda Chin and Dr. Ron DePinho, Bobbie-Vee and Jerry Cooney, Molly and Jim Crownover and Francoise and Ed Djerejian.