SPANISH OVERTURE

SPANISH OVERTURE

Houston Grand Opera Opening Night Concert, Carmen

By Jennifer Roosth   Photography by Wilson Parish and Melissa Taylor

THE SETTING: Recently, the Houston Grand Opera opened its 67th season with a historic return to the stage for live opera, with the opening night production of Bizet’s Carmen. Following the performance, the celebration continued as over 370 guests progressed to a tented Ray C. Fish Plaza to usher in the next era of HGO and welcome new General Director Khori Dastoor.

THE STYLE: A tragedy of obsessive love, Bizet’s Carmen was first staged in 1875 and is today considered the most popular opera in the world. A full house smiled with recognition when the well-known first notes of the prelude rang throughout the Brown Theater. After the concert, as the lights came up, black tie clad opera-goers enjoyed an intimate seated dinner with a close circle of Houston arts supporters and enthusiasts. The décor, created by The Events Company, burst with the same jewel tones of Ashford’s production and was accentuated with touches of black Spanish lace—a nod to Carmen’s femme fatale costumes. Inspired by the production’s Seville setting, City Kitchen Catering presented a colorful three-course feast, including Tarta de Santiago for dessert.

THE PURPOSE: Betty and Jess Tutor chaired the event, which raised $460,000. The opening night performance of Bizet’s Carmen was performed by HGO Studio alumna Carolyn Sproule, conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya, and brought to vibrant life with striking costumes and captivating dance by award-winning Broadway director and choreographer Rob Ashford. This production delivers a thrilling experience to an audience starved of live grand opera for over 20 months.

ALL THAT JAZZ

ALL THAT JAZZ

Children’s Museum of Houston’s Gatsby–Era Gala

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Alexander’s Fine Portrait Design

THE SETTING: The Corinthian in Houston was the opulent setting for an incredible night of fun and fundraising. Nearly 450 of the city’s most notable sociables, philanthropists, and VIPs turned out for the 29th Annual Children’s Museum Gala. The night’s The Great Gatsby theme ensured a roaring good time was had by all fortunate enough to be a part of the evening.

 

THE STYLE: The Roaring ‘20s-inspired black tie crowd began the night with a lively cocktail hour. Upon arrival, guests had the opportunity to pose for pictures with costumed flappers to commemorate the evening. The speakeasy theme ensured that the spirits flowed as freely as the witty repartee. Patrons also had an opportunity to bid on an impressive array of silent auction packages, inspiring them to get into the giving spirit of the evening.

 

Partygoers then gasped as they stepped down onto the main floor of the Corinthian to head to their seats for the main program. The space was transformed into an underground Cotton Club that would have made those who attended such parties a century ago green with envy. As guests dined on a delectable multi-course meal, they were treated to the evening’s program. Highlights included a spirited live auction featuring an Astros suite with a baseball signed by the entire 2021 Houston Astros team, as well as an opportunity to host a night at the Children’s Museum of Houston. The evening was capped off with an after party where revelers danced the night away to the tunes of the Love and Happiness band.

 

THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Devorah and David Krieger and Ashley and Jonathan Sloan, raised over $960,000 for the Children’s Museum of Houston. The museum’s mission is to transform communities through innovative child center learning.

A TALE OF TALES

A TALE OF TALES

Houston’s PetSet Gala Offers Support To Animals

By Jennifer Roosth Photography by Quy Tran

THE SETTING: Houston’s movers and shakers came out in full force with both their hearts and wallets to support the  PetSet’s 17th Annual Fierce and Fabulous Soirée. The beautiful chandelier-lined ballroom of the event’s Post Oak Hotel created the perfect backdrop for this year’s gala, which raised a significant amount of funds even during the pandemic.

THE STYLE: It was a resoundingly successful evening of cocktails, dinner, and luxury auction items. Mistress of Ceremonies, Deborah Duncan, provided the audience with much laughter and banter from the podium. First, The Angel Award recipient, Jan Duncan, was celebrated with a moving video tribute. Then, the celebrity canine guest, a rescue dog brought back to good health through the services of Houston PetSet, was showcased. With pandemic protocol in place at the gala, other longtime supporting PetSet guests such as Sue Smith, Les Alexander, Don Sanders, and Honoree Jan Duncan live-streamed the event from the comfort of their homes.

THE PURPOSE: More than 400 animal lovers joined Tena Lundquist Faust, Tama Lundquist, and Brigitte Kalai, the event chairs. PetSet events are always full of glamour, but the animals were the true winners of this event. Houston PetSet is a non-profit organization providing grants to Houston area charities that benefit animal welfare. They are committed to spaying, neutering, rescuing, adopting, and transporting the homeless pet population. Houston PetSet partners are recipients the of net proceeds of the evening as well as Houston PetSet’s own critical programming focusing on animal homelessness in Houston.

SOPRANO SOIREE’

SOPRANO SOIREE’

Houston Symphony Celebrates Opening Night

By Jennifer Roosth Photography by Wilson Parish and Priscilla Dickson

THE SETTING: The Houston Symphony recently celebrated the beginning of its fall season with the annual Opening Night Concert & Gala: An Evening with Renée Fleming at the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. Throughout the evening, with pandemic protocol in place, guests wore face masks while mingling at Jones Hall and later at the Corinthian.

THE STYLE: Following a champagne reception in the mezzanine area of the concert hall, guests settled into their seats for the long-awaited opening night concert featuring the superstar soprano Renée Fleming alongside the Houston Symphony’s Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke. Fleming wowed the crowd as she showcased her virtuosity in a program of opera arias and songs from composers such as Handel, Corigliano, Leoncavallo, and Cilea, as well as musical theater songs and classic Broadway overtures from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel and The King and I.

Immediately following the concert, guests continued the festivities at the Corinthian, where they were greeted by the sounds of the Richard Brown Orchestra. Richard Flowers of The Events Company decorated the beautiful room, and the multicourse dinner was prepared by City Kitchen, accompanied by select wine pairings by Lindy Rydman, John Rydman, and Lisa Rydman of Spec’s Wines, Spirits, & Finer Food.

THE PURPOSE: The gala, chaired by longtime organization supporters Robin Angly and Miles Smith, raised $600,000 towards the Houston Symphony’s industry-leading Education and Community Programming, which serves more than 200,000 Houstonians annually. For the 35th consecutive year, ConocoPhillips served as the Concert Sponsor and Lead Gala Corporate Underwriter for the event. Funds raised from the evening support the Houston Symphony Education and Outreach Programs, specifically serving community partnerships with area hospitals to increase the quality of life for patients, families, and caregivers through bedside visits and in-hospital performances. These bedside and in-hospital visits became virtual during the pandemic and continued to use music to ease patients’ time in the hospital.

MODERN FLAIR

MODERN FLAIR

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston Celebrates With Grand Gala

By Jennifer Roosth     Photography by Jenny Antill, Daniel Ortiz, and Wilson Parish

THE SETTING: Over 300 guests recently attended the Museum of Fine Arts Grand Gala Ball in the brand-new Nancy Rich Kinder Building of the MFAH. Art patrons walked into an event space, with pandemic safety protocol in place, that was brimming with brightly hued flowers…hot pink peonies and a cascading staircase garland of peonies, garden roses, bougainvillea, and orchids. It was an inspired design collaboration between the chairs and Richard Flowers of The Events Company.

THE STYLE: The evening was all about enjoying the atmosphere and the experience of dining in the new building, which will house the MFAH international collections of modern and contemporary art. City Kitchen prepared a three-course dinner, starting with baby Spanish artichokes with shaved parmesan, wild mushrooms, leeks, spring potatoes, and flowers. Guests were also served grilled sea bass with tomato confit and yuzu beurre blanc, creamy grilled corn polenta, heirloom baby carrots, and snap peas. For dessert, guests enjoyed amaretto cake with raspberry and cream cheese filling with raspberry coulis and raspberry sorbet. The cake, made by Sweet Nation, was modeled to look like the Kinder Building

THE PURPOSE: Phoebe and Bobby Tudor served as chairs for the event that raised over $1.7 million to support the Museum’s general operating budget. The Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, where the event was held, is the final addition to the Susan and Fayez S. Sarofim Campus of the MFAH. Remarks of sentiment and excitement were made by the chairs, Director of the MFAH Gary Tinterow, Mayor Sylvester Turner, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of MFAH, Rich Kinder.  

PARK’S PLACE

PARK’S PLACE

Hermann Park Celebrates With Gala

By Jennifer Roosth    Photography by Priscilla Dickson

THE SETTING: Due to Covid-19 safety measures, this year’s Evening in The Park for the Hermann Park Conservancy looked a little different than in the past. But this year’s event made up for lost time due to 2020’s gala cancellation. Instead of dinner, dancing, and the program under one big tent, the event was socially distanced and progressive. Dinner was served in tented “pods” placed along the Mary Gibbs and Jesse H. Jones Reflection Pool.

THE STYLE: Guests started with welcome cocktails and photographs in Lindsey Plaza. Then, to add an element of fun, many guests opted to take the Hermann Park Railroad from Lindsey Plaza to the Molly Ann Smith Plaza passing through the beautiful native plants and grounds of the upcoming Commons site. At Molly Ann Smith Plaza, guests heard from Kristy Bradshaw, Conservancy Board Chair, who shared about the organization’s endeavors, including play spaces, natural habitats and plantings, public art installations, gathering areas, and the McWilliams Dog Park, which was the focus of this year’s gala celebration and one of the most requested features by the community. Next was dinner, when each party headed to their respective “pod” to enjoy a meal from City Kitchen. Afterward, tunes were provided by DJ Mav at the Pioneer Obelisk, as guests indulged themselves with a bit of spirited dancing to celebrate an event that was two years in the making.

THE PURPOSE: The event’s co-chairs, Jo and Jim Furr, and Roslyn Bazzelle Mitchell and Derrick Mitchell, worked tirelessly to ensure guests had a fun and safe night. This year’s event surpassed its goal and raised $650,000 for the care and improvement of Hermann Park. That was in addition to the generous $1 million gift toward the Dog Park’s capital campaign from Laura and Brad McWilliams, this year’s honorees. Marley Lott, the honoree of 2020’s canceled Evening in the Park, was also in attendance and recognized.