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