Remember the Summer Olympics? Steve Stodghill was there thanks “to having a great wife and good negotiating skills.” While Steve was hanging out in London, red-haired wife Anne was schlepping and arranging their new home in Preston Hollow. It was quite an adjustment for the family. According to Anne, they skipped the first home and second home stages of life. “We went from bachelor pad (3,119-square-foot house) to this!” Their mammoth-square-foot mansion was complete with ponds in the front yard, a Longhorn statue signed by 20 members of the 2005 UT Longhorn football team in the back near the pool and cabana and a wing complete with an a la Castro Theatre media room and ballroom with a gargantuan scene by Russell Young of “The Magnificent Seven” on horseback from Goss-Michael.
No wonder the turnout was jamming the auto courtyard for their first benefit. The occasion was Tuesday night for the Dallas Opera‘s First Night announcement of designers, models and theme. Everywhere you looked you saw art and boldface types. Anne and Steve agree that their previous home had grown a bit crowded with their collection of art, Batman memorabilia and UT collectibles. Ah, but now the treasures were nestled happily on the white stucco walls and in the countless shelves.
Steve’s mom/poet/children’s-book author Pat Stodghill credited Anne with decorating the media room in the Santa Barbara-style mansion. Steve asked, “Anne? What about me?!” Then he told his mom, “Rule #1: Anne lies!” Pat laughed.
While the whole place was filled with happy opera lovers waiting to hear what Gala Chair Kaki Hopkins had planned, the Stodghill cats didn’t seem terribly pleased. Let’s face it — cats tend not to be party animals. Luckily black cat Dash and Himalayan Vince were ensconced in their near-story-high cage. . . uh, condo.
Despite guests being found throughout the entire home, the clanging of a spoon on a wine glass called the group to the entry. Halfway up the winding staircase, Dallas Opera President/CEO Keith Cerny and Kaki greeted the SRO crowd and revealed plans for the Friday, October 26, opening of the DO season and gala.
And what did Kaki reveal? So much that even she had to rely on notes, so here’s the rundown:
- The season’s presenting sponsor will be Texas Instruments.
- Season opening night underwriters will be Linda and Mitch Hart.
- The theme will be Art and Sports Together (Kaki got the idea after the DO’s simulcast at Cowboys Stadium).
- The honoree would be basketball legend Nancy Lieberman. Does Nancy know anything about opera? Heck, yes. Not only does she love opera, her family’s next-door neighbor was none other than the late, great Beverly “Bubbles” Sills.
- Each of the season’s productions would be represented (once again) on the red carpet, this year by a legendary sports beauty modeling a designer’s original creation reflecting the opera. The teams would include:
- Season theme — Pursuits of Passion: Designer Michael Faircloth and model Charlotte Jones Anderson, Dallas Cowboys executive
- Aïda: Designer Abi Ferrin and model Brigetta Barrett, 2012 London Games Silver medalist
- Turandot: Designer Khanh Nguyen and model Martina Moravcova, five-time Olympian and two-silver medalist in the Sydney Olympics
- The Aspern Papers: Designer Geoffrey Henning and model Diane Johnston, wife of former Dallas Cowboy player Daryl Johnston
- Dr. Miracle: Designer Nicholas Villalba and a model to-be-announced
- In addition to the leading ladies, there will be four attendants for Aïda including Alexandra Hicks, Rhonda Marcus, Shilah Phillips and Jennifer Roberts. They’ll be wearing designs by Allie-Coosh’s Paulette Martsolf.
- First Night honorary chairs will be Patti and John Cody, Amy and Vernon Faulconer, Caroline Rose Hunt, Joyce and Harvey Mitchell and Shannon and Ted Skokos.
In addition to the red carpet stroll to the Winspear for designers, models and gala guests, there will be a reception followed by the Opening Night performance of Aïda and an elegant seated dinner catered by Wolfgang Puck Catering in a tent in the Annette Strauss Square.
If you love fashion, you’ll love to see what the designers whip up. If you love sports, you’ll see the ladies who have broken records both in the field and the boardrooms. And if you love opera, you’ll have that plus all the above.