What: Opera Ball 2019: “Cielito Lindo”
Where: The Revaire
The scoop: Houston Grand Opera hosted its annual white-tie fundraiser, this year titled Opera Ball: Cielito Lindo. “Cielito Lindo” — loosely translated to “pretty darling” or “heavenly one”— is a traditional Mexican song written by Quirino Mendoza y Cortes in 1882 and beloved throughout the Spanish-speaking world and beyond as a symbol of love and unity. Chaired by Marcia and Alfredo Vilas, the evening saw over 450 guests gather at The Revaire for an evening of celebration inspired by Mexico’s rich, vibrant culture and an extraordinary mix of creative influences.
The gala raised over $1.2 million to support the internationally renowned performances and community programs that distinguish HGO as one of America’s greatest opera companies.
Guests arrived onto a Mexican pink carpet and through a tower of marigolds by The Events Company. Once inside, a migration of Monarch butterflies and a towering butterfly diva (created by décor vendor Mandarin Design Lab) seemingly summoning guests — and the Monarchs — to the cocktail reception featuring Tequila Ley .925 cocktails. A 20-foot-high sombrero wall, also created by Mandarin Design Lab) gave a nod to the inspired entertainment to come; and the silent auction featuring a highly curated collection of luxury goods, trips, and fine wines kept the gallery space a-buzz.
Once the doors for dinner opened, revealing a custom 60-foot-long calla lily chandelier and a great room framed out in Talavera blue tile and climbing bougainvillea, all by Mandarin Design Lab, the fiesta continued with the flavors of Mexico. Crafted by A Fare Extraordinaire Catering, the 3-course dinner featured huachinango (red snapper) and shrimp a la brasa to start; a duet of halibut al pastor and filet of beef tenderloin, black beans, charred pineapple and pickled cabbage slaw, and guajillo sauce (for the purists, warm corn tortillas were available upon request); and a chocolate tamale with dulce de leche, candied pecans, whipped cream, and horchata anglaise.
The sounds of Mexico were also center stage at Opera Ball including a special performance of “Besame Mucho” by guest artist soprano Ailyn Pérez, currently starring in HGO’s Don Giovanni opening April 20, and two sets by two-time Grammy Award-winning Mariachi los Camperos, last seen in HGO’s stirring mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna. Los Camperos were joined onstage by local, lauded Latin music star Vanessa Alonzo who also starred in Cruzar la Cara de la Luna as Lupita and will reprise the role this December in HGO’s Cruzar prequel and holiday opera El Milagro del Recuerdo/The Miracle of Remembering. Elegant Latin ensemble Las Catrinas, the Richard Brown Orchestra, and salsa sensation Tumbaka also kept the dance floor full until the last Paloma was served.
One of the evening’s highlights was the Mariachi los Camperos final performance of the night’s theme, “Cielito Lindo”, bringing gala chair Alfredo Vilas to the microphone and the crowd to their feet in a spirited sing-along worthy of a grand opera.
Following “Cielito Lindo”, guests carried on with a festive, late-night celebration at the Encore After Party chaired by Lady Stephanie Kimbrell and Joshua Allison and featuring more dancing, two giant mojigangas hand-made by HGO wardrobe supervisor Judy Malone-Stein, a proper taco station, passed frozen mangonadas, and churros with chocolate sauce for dipping. The dancing to Tumbaka continued until the last salsa beat, and last ENCORE guest, left the dance floor at 1 am.
Who: Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel, Whitney and Jim Crane, Hallie Vanderhider, Sofia Adrogue and Sten Gustafson, Damon Chargois and Rebekka Peltzman, Fady Armanious, Joanne King Herring, Hannah and Cal McNair, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Brigitte and Bashar Kalai, Vivian Wise, Diane Lokey Farb, Cerón, Becca Cason and John Thrash, Nicole and Christopher Rose, Jennifer and Ben Fink, Sara and Gabriel Loperena, Rebecca Rabinow and Matt Ringel, John Caird, Tami Hiraoka and Louis Borrego, Sallie Sargent, Tom Ajamie, Jose Ivo, Zane and Brady Carruth, Betsy and Fred Griffin, Anne and Albert Chao, Dian and Harlan Stai, Beth Madison, Kelly and Steve Lubanko, Alan and Elizabeth Stein, Kristina and Paul Somerville, Ileana and Michael Treviño, Council Member Robert Gallegos, Kathryn McNiel, Kelly and David Rose, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Liz Grimm and Jack Roth, Tony Bradfield, Bobbie Nau, Liz and Tom Glanville, Sid Moorhead, Iris and Danny Shaftel, Rachel and Jason Volz, Kirby and David Lodholz, Kendall and Christopher Hanno, Valerie and Tracy Dieterich, Mary and Mark D'Andrea, Abby and Christopher Venegas, Gregory Morey, Grace Kim, Betty and John Hrncir, Myrtle Jones, Monica Fulton, Michelle and David Peck, Amy and Rob Pierce, June Deadrick, Kellie and Robert Collier, Mark Jacobs and Shae Keefe, Jo Dee and Cliff Wright, Ariana Grinblat, Ishwaria and Vivek Subbiah, Hector and Alejandra Torres, Adel and Jason Sander, Lady Stephanie Kimbrell, and Joshua Allison.