Applause-worthy party

Fort Worth Opera toasts diamond anniversary with sparkling night of sipping and singing

FW Opera toasts diamond anniversary with night of sipping and singing

Marshall B. Moore and Ashley Lacamp
Marshall B. Moore, Ashley Lacamp Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Deborah Ferguson & Tamara Albury
Deborah Ferguson, Tamara Albury Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Lauren Phillips and Lauren K. Wise
Lauren Phillips, Lauren K. Wise Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Michael Medina and Elaine Alvarez
Michael Medina, Elaine Alvarez Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Giną Browning and Joe Illick
Giną Browning, Joe Illick Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Tenor Lwazi Hlati and soprano Gabrielle Gilliam
Tenor Lwazi Hlati and soprano Gabrielle Gilliam perform. Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Afton Battle
FWO general director Afton Battle welcomes guests. Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Soprano Elaine Alvarez and FWO Artistic Director Joe Ilick
Soprano Elaine Alvarez performs with Joe Ilick on piano. Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Ashley Soliman
Ashley Soliman previews costumes for La Traviata. Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Baritone Spencer Reichman with the FWO Lesley Resident and Studio Artists
Baritone Spencer Reichman leads the artists in "Brindisi" from La Traviata. Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Jasmine Hart, Johnica Rivers, Lauren Phillips, Airin J. Barnett, and Lauren K. Wise
Jasmine Hart, Johnica Rivers, Lauren Phillips, Airin J. Barnett, and Lauren K. Wise enjoy the party. Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
DJ Blake Ward
DJ Blake Ward Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Sandy Martinez, Estella Martinez-Stuart
Sandy Martinez, Estella Martinez-Stuart Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Cynthia Rodriguez Sturns and Robert Sturns
Cynthia Rodriguez Sturns, Robert Sturns Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Nicolette Duvall and Brian J. Smith
Nicolette Duvall, Brian J. Smith Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Adrian Burciaga and Mariajose Cervantes
Mariajose Cervantes, Adrian Burciaga Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Opera
Marshall B. Moore and Ashley Lacamp
Deborah Ferguson & Tamara Albury
Lauren Phillips and Lauren K. Wise
Michael Medina and Elaine Alvarez
Giną Browning and Joe Illick
Tenor Lwazi Hlati and soprano Gabrielle Gilliam
Afton Battle
Soprano Elaine Alvarez and FWO Artistic Director Joe Ilick
Ashley Soliman
Baritone Spencer Reichman with the FWO Lesley Resident and Studio Artists
Jasmine Hart, Johnica Rivers, Lauren Phillips, Airin J. Barnett, and Lauren K. Wise
DJ Blake Ward
Sandy Martinez, Estella Martinez-Stuart
Cynthia Rodriguez Sturns and Robert Sturns
Nicolette Duvall and Brian J. Smith
Adrian Burciaga and Mariajose Cervantes

A year of new directions for the Fort Worth Opera took patrons to Whiskey Ranch for a Fall Preview Concert that included arias, yes, but also strong cocktails, cheffed-up cuisine, and a DJ dropping danceable beats. As the November 6 soiree proved, this is not your grandma's opera from 75 years ago.

On a picture-perfect fall evening, VIP guests arrived at the home of Firestone & Robertson TX Whiskey in time to catch the most breathtaking sunset-views in the city. To keep things COVID-safe, everyone showed their vaccination card or recent negative test result, then masked up indoors as an extra precautionary measure. 

First stop was the bar for a generous pour of a Texas beverage — Rahr & Sons beer; Brennan Vineyards wine; or one of two signature cocktails, the autumn-inspired Maple Whiskey Cider (TX Whiskey, fresh apple cider, and maple) and the kicked-up Boot Stitch (TX Whiskey, grapefruit, lime, agave nectar, and jalapeño). Guests sipped and noshed on a charcuterie spread before heading inside for the main event, the concert.

FWO general director Afton Battle welcomed the audience and thanked them for supporting the company's 75th "diamond anniversary" season, then turned the stage over to FWO artistic director Joe Illick. Serving as host and accompanist for the concert, he and special guest singers Elaine Alvarez (soprano), Russell Thomas (tenor), and Spencer Reichman (baritone) joined FWO's Lesley resident and studio artists Brandon Bell, Gabrielle Gilliam, Lwazi Hlati, Megan Koch, and Kayla Nanto for performances of favorite pieces from beloved operas. Among them: Carmen, Otello, Don Giovanni, Pagliacci, Die Fledermaus, and Il Trovotore.

The main "preview" part of the Fall Preview Concert came in the way of a grand introduction of an all-new production of Verdi's La Traviata, which FWO will stage at Bass Hall in April 2022. After a rousing performance of Traviata's famous drinking song "Brindisi," the creative team behind the new production — director John de los Santos, set designer Liliana Duque Piñeiro, and costume designer Ashley Soliman — gave a behind-the-scenes look at the show's evolution. (Among the creative twists: It'll be set in 1989 — 200 years after the French Revolution — the set will feature a chandelier made of champagne flutes, and some costumes will be hip-hop inspired.)

After the concert, the party kicked into high gear. Guests refueled at the bar and noshed on gourmet hors d'oeuvres — including Mini Beef Wellingtons, Bacon Wrapped Quail Breast, Mini Lump Crab Cake, and Butternut Squash Empanadas — provided by award-winning Fort Worth Chef Juan Rodriguez. Of course, dessert included Whiskey Pecan Pie.

Dallas DJ Blake Ward crossed county lines to keep things upbeat. Some folks showed off their moves on the dance floor, while others relaxed by the big fireplace on the porch. 

Spotted in the diverse crowd of 140 guests, enjoying the sparkling evening, were Marshall B. Moore, Ashley Lacamp, Deborah Ferguson, Tamara AlburyAdrian Burciaga, Mariajose CervantesGiną BrowningJasmine Hart, Johnica Rivers, Lauren Phillips, Airin J. Barnett, Lauren K. Wise, Cynthia Rodriguez Sturns, Robert SturnsMichael MedinaSandy Martinez, Estella Martinez-StuartNicolette Duvall, and Brian J. Smith.