The fabled all-nighter brought royalty and celebrated opera talent for the 63rd Viennese Opera Ball, held at the Ziegfeld Ballroom.
The 63rd Viennese Opera Ball in New York, held at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in Midtown last Friday, is the definition of a workout. Think of this ballroom as the most opulent gym ever, filled with the most glamorous and important trainees, trading joggers and sweatshirts for floor-length gowns for the ladies and white-tie get-up (the most formal of formalwear) for the guys. We introduce this gym idea early because the dancing starts early. Unlike many balls of this sort, the Viennese has a special penchant for dancing and singing, whether it is manifested as opera vocals from A-list, Grammy-winning backgrounds or students of the craft on their way to the limelight. The ball is an exercise In talent. Guests enjoy the sights and sounds of a live band, and after the West Point Cadet Color Guard marched and rose their flags and the National Anthems of the United States and Austria were sung by attendees, guests began to dance. Serafin, director of the evening, then welcomed and thanked the debutantes, escorts, and guests, before ballet dancers entered and performed accompanied by the orchestra, Divertimento Viennese. The evening dinner (one of two) was punctuated by performances by Metropolitan Opera stars including Luca Pisaroni’s rendition of Lolita, Ildar Abdrazakov performing Occhi di fata, George Gagnidze performing Nemico della patria and Angela Meade performing Io son l’umile anciella, before world-renowned conductor Marco Armiliato led the singers through a group performance of La di darem.
The party was hardly over. By midnight, guests joined in the grand tradition of the Quadrille, in which all are invited to join in a step dance and a gallop. It’s tremendous fun and really something to see the older ladies swinging and dancing. My few attempts at ballroom dancing were quite evident and embarrassing- the occasional collision and the wry “excuse us!” was expected but exhilarating. Soon it was time for the Tanzbar, in which those who made it to the late hour of past midnight enjoyed more dancing with DJ and a live saxophonist, plus Austrian dishes like pretzels, goulash soup, and sausages in the Viennese tradition.
The evening, as delightful as it was, does serve a good cause. We spoke to director Silvia Frieser toward the middle of the evening. “Our relationship with Sloan Kettering will only get stronger as each year passes. It’s an opportunity to grow together and show commitment to those who matter.”
The Viennese Opera Ball in New York is an annual event. Purchase tickets for next year at https://vienneseoperaball.com