On The Avenue

Having a (Viennese Opera) Ball!

by Kelly Laffey Photographed by Rommel Demano, Patrick McMullan, BFA
Monday, February 12, 2018

On Friday, February 2, dignitaries, business professionals and diplomats gathered at the newly renovated Ziegfeld Ballroom for the annual Viennese Opera Ball. 

“The ball was established 63 years ago by Austrian immigrants to the U.S.,” said Silvia Frieser, president and executive director of the U.S. Austrian Chamber of Commerce and the Viennese Opera Ball. The event was previously held at the Waldorf Astoria, but after it closed for renovations last year, the event had to search for a new home. They chose the Ziegfeld Theater, a former Broadway and then movie theater that was recently renovated to become a ballroom and event space, preserving its art deco interior.

“The format of the ball was always the same, but now with the new location at the Ziegfeld, we are trying to update it a bit—to refresh it,” said Friese. Aside from the location, other new developments for 2018 included a concert with six Metropolitan Opera stars, and a surprise ballet performance. 

The event hosted nearly 400 guests, including Prince Dimitri of YugoslaviaPeter Thomas Roth, CEO, Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Skin Care, Nicole MillerAtıl Kutoğlu, the official fashion designer of the Viennese Opera Ball, A.E. Köechert, the event’s fine jewelry sponsor, Orange Is the New Black’s Selenis LeyvaNick Burch, son of Tory Burch, Emma Waldron, Miss Ireland 2010, Janna BullockJean ShafiroffChristine SchottLaine Siklos and Emir Bahadir

Miller made debutant Eugenia Bullock’s dress. “That was more stressful than a fashion show,” said Miller. “White clothes are tricky and there’s a lot of construction in them.”

Following a VIP cocktail reception, guests headed to the Grand Ballroom where the West Point Cadet Color Guard marched and rose their flags before the National Anthems of the United States and Austria were sung by attendees. Serafin then welcomed the debutantes, escorts and guests, before ballet dancers entered and performed accompanied by the orchestra, Divertimento Viennese. Two-time Grammy winner René Pape then performed Le veau d’or from Faust by Gounod. Afterward, the debutantes and escorts made their entrance, led by choreographer Sandra Stockmayer, and performed the Alles Waltzer.

After dinner, Stockmayer then guided guests through the Midnight Quadrille. The dancing continued into the early hours of the morning. 

The evenings Honorary Committee consisted of Mr. Dieter Beintrexler & Mrs. Elisabeth Hirst von Neckersthal, The Honorable Helmut Boeck & Mrs. Barbara Boehm-Boeck, The Honorable Renate Brauner, Ms. Helene von Damm, The Honorable Thomas Drozda, Mr. Gerald Fiala, Mr. Michael Friedl & Mrs. Amel Derragui-Friedl, Mrs. Silvia Frieser, The Honorable Johann Gudenus, Dr. Sabine Haag, H.I.R.H. Archduke Géza von Habsburg & Archduchess Elizabeth von Habsburg, Dr. Johannes Hofer, The Honorable Irena M. Holiat, The Honorable Sophie Karmasin, H.E. Jan Kickert & Mrs. Latica Tomasic-Kickert, The Honorable Sebastian Kurz, Dr. Christine Moser, Prof. Dr. Ewald Nowotny, Mr. Michael  Otter, Ms. Sandra Peterson, Dr. Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, Mr. Christian Pöttler & Mrs. Ursula Pöttler-Fellner,  Ms. Renée Price, The Honorable Erwin Pröll, Ms. Denise Rich, Ms. Martha Schultz, Dr. Christian Strasser, Mr. Max & Mrs. Sissy Strauss, H.E. Franz Vranitzky, H.E. Wolfgang A. Waldner & Mrs. Gudrun Faudon-Waldner.

Event sponsor Tesla provided transportation to the red carpet and VIP reception for Guest of Honor René PapeSelenis Leyva and Metropolitan opera singer Ildar Abdrazakov. The silent auction included pieces from fine jewelry sponsor A.E. Köechert, pieces from Aquazzura and artwork from Camillo Stepanek


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