The Lyric Opera Opening Night Gala: Another Elegant Year

There are two things that are a given on Opening Night of the Lyric Opera.  You will see fabulous gowns and a Grand Ballroom decorated unlike any other.  The performances are always wonderful too, of course, but my favorite part is seeing the people and the decor.  The VIP private reception for donors and members began in the Graham Room.  Decorated in soothing shades of pale green, you feel as if you've stepped back in time to a kinder, gentler era when the men still wore top hats and women wouldn't leave the house without lace gloves.  It's a suspension of reality and I loved being there amidst the elegant Oscar de la Renta gowns and statement jewels sparkling in the candlelight.

Opening Night and Opera Ball Chairs Trisha Rooney Alden and Karen Gray, along with the formidable Women's Board of the Lyric Opera led by President Anne Reyes, planned a night to remember that featured the 2 1/2 hour production of the  "Tales of Hoffmann".   The Rice Grand Foyer of the Civic Opera House and the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Chicago were both decorated to reflect the extravagant, 19th century style of the performance and they were exquisite with lush arrangements of towering white flowers designed by Heffernan Morgan.  Large screens around the Ballroom projected photos from past ball attendees as well as clips from "The Tales of Hoffman."

Over 3500 attended the performance with 625 guests continuing on to the Opera Ball.  The Opening Night Gala Benefit was sponsored by Aon Corporation, the Opera Ball was co-sponsored by ITW and Northern Trust and Liz Stiffel was the sponsor for the Opera Ball reception.  The evening raised $875,000 for Lyric programming.  (Fabulous photos by Caitlin Collins Saville).

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