All photography by Tino Tran from Phototainment.
Seattle Opera held its third annual Opera Ball on Saturday, January 16, following its opening night performance of The Marriage of Figaro. The show’s light, humorous plot and celebratory ending made it the perfect production to prime the audience for the following soiree. (I commend their decision to not hold the ball after their upcoming production of Mary Stuart, which ends with Mary, Queen of Scots being led to the scaffold). At the end of Figaro, faith in love is restored, forgiveness is granted, marriages are soon to be consummated and, in this production in particular, the finale’s festive air continued through an uproarious curtain call.
A roped-off portion of the Grand Lobby greeted opera-goers filing out of McCaw Hall after the performance, and those attending the Ball slipped in for preliminary drinks and mingling as the crowds dissipated. Seattle Opera Associate Director of Development Rob Wiseman led the Opera Ball guests backstage, where the stage left wing had been transformed into a glowing wedding reception-like space, twinkling lights strung against set pieces in a cheeky acknowledgement of Figaro’s nuptials-focused plot. Music by jazz ensemble 200 Trio set the scene, and Figaro Fizz and Sparkling Susanna cocktails flowed freely.
Seattle Opera Board of Directors President Maryanne Tagney welcomed the guests to the celebration. Her speech discussed the evening’s proceeds, which are set to go towards the Opera’s Learning and Community Engagement programs. Benefiting students and seniors alike, Seattle Opera’s education programs brings student groups to dress rehearsals, produces kid-focused outreach operas in schools around Puget Sound, and puts on community previews at local libraries and community centers for each production in the season. Altogether, Tagney said, Seattle Opera brings their art to a larger population outside McCaw Hall than those already in the auditorium seats.
Aidan Lang, General Director of Seattle Opera since September 2014, followed Maryanne Tagney’s welcome with a touching thank you to each of the singers of Figaro, many of whom had joined the party at this point, drinks in hand. Each commendation was personal and sincere, as was Lang’s obvious love for his art. “If I had to listen to only one opera for the rest of my life, it would be this one,” he said.
The evening continued with dancing and a masquerade-themed step-and-repeat. Opera administrators clinked glasses with donors; board members congratulated their favorite singers; young performing artists from around the area got to rub shoulders with like-minded creatives. The Figaro cast was vibrant and exhilarated after opening night, talking openly about the performance and rehearsal process. (As an aside, anyone who still imagines opera singers as old, overweight and aloof needs to get on board with the new generation of singers. This cast is utterly charming and objectively gorgeous to boot.)
Check out the gallery below for a peek behind the scenes at the Seattle Opera’s fabulous Opera Ball. Hop over to read the review of the show itself, and stay tuned for more coverage of Seattle Opera’s parties and people as the season continues.