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.