Long considered the social apotheosis for a city renown for sophistication and culture, the white tailed, tiara’d splendor of the Viennese Opera Ball couldn’t be contained in just one city. Austrian immigrants brought it to the United States 65 years ago, where it remains an annual all night grand affair, replete with debutantes, dignitaries, opera, dance, the West Point color guard and of course, a sea of ball gowns.
To celebrate the upcoming gala on February 7 at Cipriani, 42nd Street, Board Member Sabine Riglos opened her penthouse for cocktails and Viennese inspired bites. The Ball’s artistic director Daniel Serafin introduced performances by mezzo soprano Nicole Piccolomini and Juilliard violinist Anastasiia Mazurok.
Jean Shafiroff, who will co-chair the Ball with Denise Rich and Elisabeth Muhr, had just returned from Vienna, where she saw Ariodante, a lesser known Handel, at the Vienna State Opera House. “The opera was beautiful and the experience of being in the Wiener Staatsoper was extraordinary,” she told us. “I hope to be back in Vienna soon.”
Its glamour hails from the oldest Royal Houses in Austria and Europe, but the Viennese Opera Ball raises money for American charities. This year, it will benefit the musical therapy program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center through Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research.
There is nothing like this in America. As abroad, the celebration includes both music and dance, and a Midnight Quadrille that fills the dance floor until 4 a.m. “With it’s long-standing tradition of 65 consecutive years, the Viennese Opera Ball demonstrates that the ballroom and the dance floor is the best platform for cultural exchange between distinguished guests and nations,” President and Executive Director Silvia Frieser told the room.
Jen Raniri is CEO. Associate Director of Development is Michele Keene,
Among the guests were Nathan Lee Graham, who will emcee the upcoming Ball, Chair Jean Shafiroff, Host Committee members Janna Bullock, Joanna Fisher, Ana Saucedo, and Marisa Rose van Bokhorst, Junior Chairs Colgate Rumbough and Emily Mohr, and Board Member Stefan Oehner as well as Audra Asencio, Leszek Barwinski-Brown (CEO, Lang Lang International Music Foundation), Maestro Alvise Casellati, Adrian Danchig-Waring (principal dancer, NYC Ballet), Michael Friedl, Franz Gerhardter, Eric Huebscher, and Catherine Leung.
For more information, visit vienneseoperaball.com.