More than 400 masked guests celebrated to a "Carnevale di Venezia" theme at the lavish Houston Grand Opera, chaired by Zane and Brady Carruth. Elaborately dressed Carnevale characters, including a 10-foot marionette provided by J&D Entertainment, greeted the white-tie crowd on the red carpet in front of the Wortham Theater Center.
Inside the venue, depictions of the Piazza San Marco in Venice, complete with its iconic astrological clock tower, adorned the ballroom while waiters served up Harry’s Bar Bellinis, named for the legendary 1930s Venice bar known for its specialty cocktails and celeb clientele.
The “Piazza” was also decorated with sparkling chandeliers and embroidered Italian velvet tapestries, while florals in rich shades, from blush to merlot, adorned dinner tables.
City Kitchen Catering presented a multi-course dinner of Italian cuisine, including a traditional Italian bracciolini of beef with Swiss chard, pancetta, parmesan, and cacciatore sauce, and a decadent tiramisu.
Entertainment highlights came from soprano and HGO Studio alumna Albina Shagimuratova with a thrilling performance of “Jadwiga’s Waltz” from Offenbach's Robinson Crusoe and “Solivei” by Alyabyev, Italian classics played by the Richard Brown Strings Ensemble, and high-energy dance music by Atlanta's Big Blast and the Party Masters.
Without leaving the dance floor, guests were transported from the grand ball to a late-night soiree, the Encore Party, where internationally-renowned DJ Whitney Fierce spun lively tunes, blending her background in classical music with eccentric beats.
Attendees were able to take selfies with a gondolier, who glided around the dance floor in the late hours, and snack on Italian street fare and gelato.
Just past the stroke of midnight, Encore Party chairs Carrie and Sverre Brandsberg-Dahl, along with a choreographed crew of partygoers, took over the floor, breaking into a flash mob routine while spectators on the sidelines cooled down with limoncello slushy shots.
The special night raised over $1,750,000 to support Houston Grand Opera’s performances and community programs.
Guests included Donna Josey Chapman, Elizabeth and Ilyas Colombowala, HGO board of directors chairman Jim Crownover and his wife Molly, HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers and Beau Miller, HGO managing director Caroline and Perryn Leech, Robin Angly and Miles Smith, Jana and Scotty Arnoldy, Lynn Wyatt, Margaret Alkek Williams, Denise and Philip Bahr, Janice and Bob McNair, Anne and Dr. John Mendelsohn, Bobbie Nau, Bobbie-Vee and Jerry Cooney, Isabel and Danny David, and Vivian Wise.
Also joining in the fun were Hallie Vanderhider, Pat Breen, Danielle Ellis, Valerie and Tracy Dieterich, Elizabeth Grimm and Jack Roth, Lynn Guggolz and Henry Gissel, Joanne King Herring, Michelle and Frank Hevrdejs, Kristina and Paul Somerville, Ileana and Michael Treviño, Rini and Edward Ziegler, and Brian McCulloch and Jeremy Garcia.
In need of some fashion inspiration? Look to our story on the Houston Grand Opera Ball’s best gowns.