Beyond being a “simple” 75th anniversary celebration, the Fort Worth Opera House Diamond Anniversary Celebration April 22 was also a long-awaited toast to the return of opera to the Bass Hall.
After two years of pandemic transitions to virtual presentations, recitals and productions in smaller venues, FWO fans were able to settle into the plush armchairs of the city’s premier performing arts venue and enjoy La TraviataFWO’s first fully staged opera since 2019.
The artwork pays homage to the company’s roots: La Traviata was the very first opera presented by FWO, sold out at the Will Rogers Memorial Auditorium on November 25, 1946. More than 75 years later, Verdi’s great romantic masterpiece was presented in a modern, uncluttered room of 90 minutes. version, courtesy of the director Jean de los Santosscenographer Liliana Duque Pinoteirocostume designer Ashley Solimanand their team.
CEO FWO Battle of Afton welcomed the patrons of the stage, then handed over the room to the artistic director and conductor of the FWO Joe Illick and the mighty cast of 10, including Elaine Alvarez and Nathan Graner as stars Violetta and Alfredo. (The entire cast and talented crew are listed here.)
After several reminders and a standing ovation, eager customers made their way across the street to McDavid Studio. The intimate space was flooded with pink light, making the colorful, shimmering tablecloths shimmer beneath pretty pink and white floral arrangements.
Guests were greeted with an impressive appetizer prepared by Proper Catering – an entire table of chilled caviar and frozen seafood; gourmet cheese and charcuterie; and an Asian taco station. Glasses of champagne, wine and cocktails were filled in an open bar.
For some ardent FWO supporters, it was not the second or even the third, but the Fourth event of the night, including the opera itself. A group of about 50 major donors, board members and guests had gathered for a private pre-show dinner at Steinway Hall. The elegant three-course dinner paid tribute to esteemed board members Jill Fischer and David Bucher. A group of approximately 50 corporate sponsors also toasted in the Bass Hall Green Room before the curtain went up.
Notable participants included Jenna Wright, Christie Howard, Marshall B. Moore, Mr. & Mrs. Tom Busher, Lori Hartman, Jon Hartman, Thomas Ragozzino, Nelson Claytor, Kyle Jordan, Keon Anderson, Arlene Barnett, John Barnett, Rita O’Farrell, Joe McCreary, Mary Pencis, Dan Bartow, Adelaide Griffin, Susan Bucher, David Bucher, Katie Briggsand Jacob Briggs.
The McDavid studio celebration turned into a full-throttle party when the Georgia Bridgwater Orchestra turned up the live music and brought people to the dance floor. The high-energy party lasted until after midnight.
Surely, then, president of the event Nicolette Duvall and its committee members Barbara Jordan, Ryan Krause, Ashley LaCamp, Guy Manning, Mike Martinez, Lauren Phillipsand Katherine Polenz had to kick off their shoes and give a private toast to a one-night sparkling diamond.