A Bubbly, Beautiful Crowd Celebrates HGO’s Largest Opening Night Affair Ever

Jim Crownover, Phoebe Tudor, Diana Hawkins

EVEN FOR AN organization known for lavish events — grand is right there in its name, after all — Houston Grand Opera’s Opening Night performance of La Traviata at the Wortham and gala dinner afterward were indeed spectacularly beautiful.


“Chaired by longtime opera supporters Molly and Jim Crownover, the evening marked a post-pandemic return to gathering donors with the cast and creative team for dinner and saw the largest opening night dinner participation in HGO’s 67-year history,” remarked an HGO rep. In all, nearly 500 guests helped raise about $600,000.

The itself marked the HGO debut of Grammy Award-winning soprano Angel Blue as the doomed heroine — is there any other kind in opera? — in the lead role. Celebrated Ukrainian baritone Andrei Kymach, who had to flee his war-torn homeland in recent months, also appeared; in her pre-curtain remarks, HGO honcho Khori Dastoor dedicated the evening’s special performance to him.

After many rounds of standing ovation, the black-tied crowd left the performing arts center and alighted in a grand tent erected on Fish Plaza outside. “Guests were greeted with glasses of bubbly, and two ten-foot floral Champagne flutes flanking the tent’s entrance with a flurry of real bubbles in the air” — courtesy of a bubble machine —the rep said. At a dinner of fall squash soup with lump crab, a beef tenderloin Marchand du Vinfor the entrée, and a dessert of cherry and dark chocolate clafoutis, honorees Jill and Allyn Risley and La traviata crew and cast members were recognized.

Per usual, the guest list represented a who’s-who of Houston society, including Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Lynn Wyatt, Margaret Alkek Williams, Beth Madison, Ping Sun and David Leebron, Bobbie Nau, Betty and Jess Tutor, Andrew Pappas and Charles Martin, Veronica Juarez and Lauren Randle.

Walter and Linda McReynolds, Lynn Wyatt, Molly Crownover

Ann and Jonathan Ayre

Beth Madison, Tom LeCloux

Schyuler Evans, Veronica Juarez, CJ Martin and Andrew Pappas

Joe Greenberg and Claire Liu

Tracy and Valerie Dieterich, Betty and Jess Tutor

Bobbie Nau, HGO's Greg Robertson

Brian Dunham and Allyson Pritchett

Margaret Alkek Williams

Cindy and Dr. Franklin Rose

Monica Karuturi and Kumaran Sathyamoorthy

Cynthia and Tony Petrello

Danilo and Stephanie Juvane

Diana and Russell Hawkins

Drs. Ishwaria and Vivek Subbiah

Drs. Rachel and Warren Ellsworth

Drs. Sugene Kim and Bob Basu

David Krohn, C.C. and Duke Ensell

Jennifer and Ben Fink

Jerry Fischer, Lynne Bentsen, John Turner

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