Opera Ball Returns with Vivid Moroccan Theme, a $1.25 Million Haul and Even a Camel!

Brad and Joanna Marks, Sarahbeth and Pierce Bush

SOMETIMES CALLED THE mother of all galas, the always spectacular Houston Grand Opera Ball returned to the Wortham Center foyer with a roar, with a haul of $1.25 million and a rousing party. It was the event’s first time in the theater center since Hurricane Harvey and then the Covid pandemic displaced it from its longtime home. And, for many, the splendor of its colorful “Le Voyage à Marrakech” theme was worth the long wait.


The theme itself was initially planned in as “Une Nuit à Marrakesh” in 2020 and recast to reflect the long journey to the ball’s festive return.

“The dreamy and colorful Moroccan adventure chaired by Jennifer and Benjamin Fink was also the first Opera Ball with new CEO and General Director Khori Dastoor,” noted a rep for gala organizers. “The Finks and Dastoor, along with Music and Artistic Director Patrick Summers, welcomed more than 470 guests with a red-carpet arrival on Fish Plaza featuring traditional Moroccan tea service, rugs by Abraham’s Rugs and a live camel photo op.”

For their part, the Finks made their entrance on a gilded Amariya, which is one of those carriages hoisted on the shoulders of footmen and typically reserved for the bride at Moroccan weddings.

North Aftrican music by Moodafaruka, Morocco-inspired cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, fortune tellers, henna artists, fortune tellers and belly dancers all factored into the experience, as did stunning décor including flickering lanterns and largescale arrangements of multicolor roses. HGO star and artistic adviser Ana María Martinez sang “La Vie en Rose” before a dinner of Harissa-marinated scallops and rack of lamb flavored with cinnamon and dried fruits. For dessert: little Aladdin’s lamps made of chocolate and with dark chocolate mousse.

Per its custom, the opera ball gave way to raucous “Encore After Party,” at which the Celebrity All Stars band rocked the dance floor until DJ Little Martin took over.

The guest list was a who’s who of arts patrons and society fixtures, including Meredith and Ben Marshall, Zane and Brady Carruth, Margaret Alkek Williams, Lynn Wyatt, Susan Sarofim, Franci Neely, Ron Franklin and Janet Gurwitch, Kristina and Paul Somerville, Sarahbeth and Pierce Bush, Brad and Joanna Marks, Robert Sakowitz, Molly and Jim Crownover, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Anne and Albert Chao, Beth Madison, Betty and Jess Tutor, Isabel and Danny David, Kristy and Chris Bradshaw, Yvonne and Rufus Cormier, Beth Wolff, Cynthia Wolff and Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and Lynn Wyatt

Margaret Alkek Williams

Michael Hornsby, Bevin Biggers

Ann and Jonathan Ayre

Anne and Albert Chao

Belly Dancers at Opera Ball 2022

Ben Fink, Patrick Summers, Khori Dastoor, Jennifer Fink

Jennifer Fink

BenJoaquin Gouverneur, Khori Dastoor, Claudia and Nelson Mattos

Norma and Beto Cardenas

Zane and Brady Carruth

Betty and Jess Tutor

Brandon McClendon, Myrtle Jones

Brian Dunham and Allyson Pritchett with Ernest the Camel

Bruce Padilla, Susan Sarofim, Alvin Abraham

Cynthia Wolff and Beth Wolff

David Wuthrich, Leigh Smith, Marty Goossen

Rufus and Dr. Yvonne Cormier

Dr. Karima Chami and Younes Belatier

Drs. Ishwaria Subbiah and Vivek Subbiah

Elizabeth Grimm, Jack Roth

Isabel David, Kristy Bradshaw, Jennifer Fink, Meredith Marshall

Janet Gurwitch and Ron Franklin

Jeremy Garcia, Brian McCulloch

John Eddie and Sheridan Williams

Laura and Brad McWilliams with Ernest the Camel

Magical Chocolate Lamp Dessert by City Kitchen

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