Elegant Opera Ball debuts Lyric's 63rd season

One of the most elegant events in the city, the Lyric Opera Ball, hosted over 450 guests at the Hilton Chicago following the opening night performance of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice on September 23. 

Over 3,500 guests attended the performance at the Lyric Opera House, along with the black-tie clad gala-goers who walked the Red Carpet before the new production, directed and choreographed by John Neumeier, began.  Orphée et Eurydice, which opened the company’s 63rd season, featured The Joffrey Ballet in its Lyric debut.

David T. Ormesher, Lyric’s board chair, welcomed guests before Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director, announced the Grand March of the Stars. In order, they included: Lauren Snouffer (soprano) with Michael Black (chorus master); Victoria Jaiani (Joffrey/ Eurydice dancer) with Ormesher (board chair); Temur Suluashvili (Joffrey/Orphee dancer) with Lili Gaubin, Susan Lenny and Nancy Santi (Opera Ball hostesses); Andriana Chuchman (soprano/Eurydice) with Sir Andrew Davis (Lyric’s music director); Dmitry Korchak (tenor/Orphee) with Mamie Biggs Case (ball vice-chair); Harry Bicket (conductor) with Ellen Stirling (ball chair) and John Neumeier (director/choreographer/production designer) with Nancy Searle (WB president). Renee Crown was honorary Grand March Chair.

A highlight, besides the performance, is always the stunning event decor. This year’s offering by HMR Designs featured faux cypress trees (in homage to their use in the production) scattered throughout the Hilton ballroom. The stage’s backdrop (a reproduction of an 1883 painting by Arnold Bocklin titled “Isle of the Dead”) was also used in the ballroom decor to dramatic effect.

Tabletops were adorned with either towering gold urns filled with white hydrangeas or gold candlesticks placed among rich green magnolia foliage atop linens in various shades of blue. Creative mood lighting bathed the ballroom in matching shades of blue as well.

Dancing continued into the wee hours with The Stu Hirsh Orchestra, who has now performed at the Ball 25 times to date!

Hosted by the Women’s Board of the Lyric Opera led by WB president Nancy Searle, and chaired by Ellen Stirling with vice-chair Mamie Biggs Case, the event raised over $1 million for this cultural jewel.

(This production will be broadcast nationally on PBS “Great Performances” in 2018).

(Photos by Dan Rest, Robert Kusel, Todd Rosenberg and Jaclyn Simpson).

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