Houston Grand Opera Season’s Opening Night Celebration

By Jennifer Roosth                          Photography by Priscilla Dickson

THE SCENE: Less than two months after Hurricane Harvey flooded The Houston Grand Opera’s home, The Wortham Theater, the HGO kicked off the 63nd season with Verdi’s La Traviata performance and dinner celebration in what has come to be known as “Resilience Theater” at the George R. Brown Convention Center. More than 400 guests attended the opening night celebration.

THE VIBE: Resilience was the vibe of the evening, as well as the inspiration to celebrate the opera company in its against-all-odds relocation outside of HGO’s Harvey-ravaged Wortham Theater Center. Guests and cast members reveled in the spirit of the evening, toasting to the themes of Houston Strong and “the show will go on.” HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech welcomed patrons with heartfelt thanks, followed by Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers who introduced the internationally acclaimed La Traviata cast, led by soprano Albina Shagimuratova, tenor Dimitri Pittas, and baritone George Petean.

For the dinner, Richard Flowers and The Events Company transformed the foyer of the second level of the venue into an elegantly vibrant, jewel-toned fête—one that Violetta might have hosted in her glittering Paris maison when La Traviata debuted—inspired by the lavishly colorful creations of the production’s costume and puppet designer, Cait O’Connor.

THE CAUSE: The evening was chaired by Kristina and Paul Somerville. The opening night celebration raised over $450,000 for the Houston Grand Opera. To support fundraising efforts, a fixed price auction included the experience of conducting the HGO Orchestra in the Star Spangled Banner during next season’s opening night, as well as jewelry donated by Tenenbaum Jewelers. Guests also contributed to replace the company’s production vehicles that were destroyed by Harvey.