Bravi tutti

Fort Worth Opera dazzles with 75th diamond anniversary mega-celebration

Fort Worth Opera dazzles with 75th diamond anniversary celebration

Fort Worth Opera party
Jenna Wright (right) and guest Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera party
Ashley LaCamp, Marshall B. Moore Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera party
FWO artists including Lwazi Hlati, Prosper Makhanya, Megan Koch, Nathan Granner, Elaine Alvarez, and Carson Gilmore and guest Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera, La Traviata
Eaine Alvarez and Nathan Granner in La Traviata. Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera dinner
FWO general director Afton Battle welcomes 50 patrons to a private dinner at Steinway Gallery before the opera. Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera party
The Georgia Bridgwater Orchestra got the party crowd on its feet. Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera, La Traviata
Elaine Alvarez in La Traviata, with set design by Liliana Duque Pineiro. Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera party
Patrons enjoy the post-La Traviata celebration. Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera party
Opera patrons partied until midnight. Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera party
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Busher, Lori Hartman, Jon Hartman, Thomas Ragozzino Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera party
Pianist Thiago Nascimento entertains guests at the dinner. Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Christie Howard, Managing Director of Jubilee Theatre
Christie Howard, managing director of Jubilee Theatre Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera party
Nelson Claytor, Barbara Jordan, Kyle Jordan, Keon Anderson, Arlene Barnett, John Barnett Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera party
Kenny Fischer, Jill Fischer, Afton Battle, Rita O'Farrell, Joe McCreary, Mary Pencis Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera party
Dan Bartow, Adelaide Griffin, Susan Bucher, David Bucher, Katie Briggs, Jacob Briggs Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera party
McDavid Studio was dressed and ready to party. Photo by Freddie Watkins, Forever Photography Studios
Fort Worth Opera party
Fort Worth Opera party
Fort Worth Opera party
Fort Worth Opera, La Traviata
Fort Worth Opera dinner
Fort Worth Opera party
Fort Worth Opera, La Traviata
Fort Worth Opera party
Fort Worth Opera party
Fort Worth Opera party
Fort Worth Opera party
Christie Howard, Managing Director of Jubilee Theatre
Fort Worth Opera party
Fort Worth Opera party
Fort Worth Opera party
Fort Worth Opera party

Beyond being a "mere" 75th birthday party, the Fort Worth Opera's Diamond Anniversary Celebration on April 22 was also a long-awaited toast to the return of opera at Bass Hall.

After two years of pandemic pivots to virtual presentations, recitals, and productions at smaller venues, FWO fans got to settle into the plushy chairs at the city's premier performing arts venue and enjoy La Traviata, FWO's first fully staged opera since 2019.

The work paid homage to the company's roots: La Traviata was the very first opera presented by FWO, to a sold-out house at Will Rogers Memorial Auditorium on November 25, 1946. More than 75 years later, Verdi’s grand romantic masterpiece was presented in a modern-day, streamlined, 90-minute chamber version, courtesy of director John de los Santos, scenic designer Liliana Duque Piñeiro, costume designer Ashley Soliman, and their team.

FWO general director Afton Battle welcomed patrons from the stage, then handed the hall over to FWO artistic director and conductor Joe Illick and the powerhouse cast of 10, including Elaine Alvarez and Nathan Granner as stars Violetta and Alfredo. (The entire talented cast and crew is listed here.)

After several curtain calls and a standing ovation, passionate patrons headed across the street to McDavid Studio. The intimate space was awash in pink uplighting, making the colorful, glittery table cloths sparkle underneath pretty pink and white floral arrangements.

Guests were greeted with an impressive hors d'oeuvres spread prepared by Proper Catering — an entire table of chilled caviar and iced seafood; gourmet cheese and charcuterie; and an Asian taco station. Champagne, wine, and cocktail glasses were kept full at an open bar.

For some ardent FWO supporters, this was not the second or even the third, but the fourth event of the night, counting the opera itself. A group of about 50 major donors, board members, and guests had assembled for a private, pre-show dinner at Steinway Hall. The elegant three-course dinner honored esteemed board members Jill Fischer and David Bucher. A group of about 50 corporate sponsors also toasted in the Bass Hall Green Room before curtain.

Noteworthy attendees included Jenna Wright, Christie Howard, Marshall B. Moore, Mr. and 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 Briggs, and Jacob Briggs.

The McDavid Studio celebration became a full-throttle party when the Georgia Bridgwater Orchestra cranked up the live music and got people on the dance floor. The high-energy party lasted until after midnight.

Surely, then, event chair Nicolette Duvall and her committee members Barbara Jordan, Ryan Krause, Ashley LaCamp, Guy Manning, Mike Martinez, Lauren Phillips, and Katherine Polenz must have kicked off their shoes and enjoyed a private toast to a sparkling diamond of a night.