On Friday, Jan. 27, I was in awe as I stepped inside the Civic Opera House for the 28th annual Fantasy of the Opera event, which raises money to support The Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Titled â€śA Night Under the Czars,â€ť this specatular black-tie event transformed the opera house into a Russian fairy tale. The opera houseâ€™s lobby was resplendent in white dĂ©cor and brightly colored peacock accents, featuring ice sculptures of FabergĂ© eggs, illuminated egg-shaped table lamps, frosted-glass table chandeliers, golden branches dripping with crystal strands, white table linens scattered with cut-crystal â€śdiamondsâ€ť and frosty blue lighting, making for a breathtaking scene.
Traditionally, the Fantasy of the Opera is organized by the The Lyric Opera of Chicagoâ€™s Womenâ€™s Board, Guild Board and Chapterâ€™s Executive Board, but this year, the Young Professionals Board was also asked to participate.
As the Young Professionals chair of the event, it was a true honor to share the beauty and richness of Russian culture with the gala guests. This event was another important step in strengthening understanding, communication and interest between United States and Russia â€• something I strongly and passionately believe in.
I was blown away by the generosity of the young professionals and proud that we raised a total of $470,000, which exceeded our expectations. Almost 600 people attended the event, including 80 young professionals.
Proceeds from the evening benefitted the Lyric Opera of Chicago â€• one of the worldâ€™s greatest opera companies featuring the finest singers of our time.
Prior to the event, I invited several of my personal friends who were supporting the gala â€• including Robert Blumberg, the consul general of Latvia; Robert Johnson from Senator Mark Kirkâ€™s office; and two-time Olympic medalist figure skater Oleg Vasilliev â€• to my home for hors dâ€™oeuvers and champagne.
At the gala we enjoyed cocktails and a celebrity cabaret featuring several Lyric singers performing Broadway numbers, including Ashley Brown, Nathan Gunn, Susanna Phillips, Amber Wagner, Elza van den Heever and more.
Then, while the regular guests sat down for dinner, the young professionals had their own elegant cocktail party in a separate room where we mingled, talked and dined on Russian-themed appetizers.
In addition to the dinner, there was also a raffle, silent auction, dancing to the music of Ken Arlenâ€™s Indigo orchestra and a champagne lounge sponosred by Veuve Clicquot, which featured a delectable chocolate bar. No one wanted to leave at the end of the evening because we were having so much fun!
It was delightful to see such a great support from Lyric Young Professionals, and I am confident this first year of active involvement laid a strong foundation for a lot of other great events in the future.