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Houston Grand Opera’s 2017-2018 Season Opening Night Performance and Dinner

HGO kicks off 63rd season with La traviata and dinner celebration


Photography by Priscilla Dickson and Wilson Parish


HGO’s 2017–2018 Season Opening Night Performance and Dinner Celebration



Friday, October 20, 2017

Performance of Verdi’s La traviata at 7pm

Dinner celebration immediately following the performance



Performance in the HGO Resilience Theater at the George R. Brown Convention Center

Dinner in Maison Violetta at the George R. Brown Convention Center



Black Tie



Kristina and Paul Somerville

Houston Grand Opera (HGO) celebrated the opening of its 63rd season with a new production of Verdi’s beloved La traviata immediately followed by a late night dinner celebration chaired by Kristina and Paul Somerville.


Inspired to celebrate the resilience of the opera company in its against-all-odds relocation outside of HGO’s Harvey-ravaged Wortham Theater Center home, more than 400 guests and La traviata 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 introducing the internationally acclaimed La traviata cast, led by soprano Albina Shagimuratova, tenor Dimitri Pittas, and baritone George Petean. The opening night event raised over $450,000.

A foyer on the 2nd level of the convention center, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking Discovery Green, was the site of an elegantly vibrant, jewel-toned fête—one that Violetta might have hosted in her glittering Paris maison—and inspired by the lavishly colorful creations of the production’s costume and puppet designer, Cait O’Connor.


Catering, provided by Levy’s, included a baby arugula salad accented with marcona almonds, cambazola, and heirloom grape tomatoes with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette and truffled honey drizzle. The entrée was a roasted veal chop served with dauphinoise potatoes, baby carrot, grilled asparagus, wilted spinach, and wild mushroom demi. The delightful Camellia Cake dessert was sprinkled with candied rose petal garnish —a nod to Violetta’s wilting flower.   



To support fundraising efforts, a fixed price auction included the coveted experience of conducting the HGO Orchestra in the Star Spangled Banner on next season’s opening night, an occasion that will  carry extra meaning as HGO takes the stage back in the Wortham for the first time in over a year. Also auctioned were the opportunity to underwrite HGOco’s next bi-lingual Opera to Go! production of Cinderella in Spain, and jewelry donated by Tenenbaum Jewelers. Guests also got to “HONK for  HGOco” by donating $500 towards replacing the company’s production vehicles that were destroyed by Harvey, leaving HGO’s school and community programs stranded. Each donor took home a keepsake matchbox version of the HGOco vans.



Molly and HGO Board Chairman James Crownover, Zane and Brady Carruth, Pat Breen, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Celina Hellmund and Gabriel Castello, Beth Madison, John Turner and Jerry Fischer, Caroline and HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech, HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers and Beau Miller, Franci Neely, Liz Grimm and Jack Roth, Robin Angly and Miles Smith, Anna and Joel Catalano, Bobbie-Vee and Jerry Cooney, Diane Lokey Farb, Sallymoon Benz, Rini and Ed Ziegler, Sara and Gabriel Loperena, Katherine Thomasson and Michael Talbot, Claire Liu and Joe Greenberg, Glen Rosenbaum, Kristina Somerville, Dian and Harlan Stai, Margaret Alkek Williams and Jim Daniel, and Lynn Wyatt.

About Houston Grand Opera


Houston Grand Opera (HGO) is one of the largest, most innovative, and most highly acclaimed opera companies in the United States. HGO was the only American finalist for Opera Company of the Year at the 2017 International Opera Awards. In fulfilling its mission to advance the operatic art to serve an ever-evolving audience, HGO has led the field in commissioning new works (63 world premieres to date) and in training and nurturing promising young artists and administrators. The company contributes to the cultural enrichment of Houston and the nation through a diverse and innovative program of performances, community events, and education projects that reaches the widest possible public. HGO’s pioneering community engagement initiative, HGOco, has served as a model for other arts organizations.


The NEXUS Initiative is HGO’s multi-year ticket underwriting program that allows Houstonians of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy opera without the barrier of price. Since 2007, NEXUS has enabled more than 250,000 Houstonians to experience superlative opera through discounted single tickets and subscriptions, subsidized student performances, and free productions.


HGO has toured extensively and has won a Tony, two Grammy awards, and two Emmy awards. It is the only opera company to win all three honors.

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