The rain and chill of Friday, October 30, gave way to an afternoon break following the Dallas Women’s foundation’s 30th Annual Lunch at the Hilton Anatole. While some hoped that Mother Nature was leaving the area, weather forecasters warned that she was resting up to unload for the evening.
Forewarned, The Dallas Opera staffers had a back-up plan all prepared. Instead of the usual red-carpet entry from Flora, guests were to arrive at 5:30 in the underground parking and take the elevators to the ground level.
Upon exiting the elevators, the black-tie set strolled a green carpet to the tent for the VIP reception.
Why the green walkway instead of the traditional red? It was to “kick-off” the evening with a nod to the opera’s season opener, “Great Scott,” which had a football theme. Think green playing field. Ah, now it makes sense.
As the beautiful people checked in at tables just outside the tent, a couple of staffers swept water from the walkway. While the First Sight & First Night Co-Chairs Ellen in Michael Faircloth and Don Winspear, First Night Dinner Co-Chairs Anne and Steve Stodghill and guests like Marnie and Kern Wildenthal, Rhonda in Amanda Wakeley and Fraser Marcus, Honorary Co-Chairs Micki and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Lynn and Allan McBee, Donna Wilhelm, Laura and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, Nick Even with Arden Kwan, Kristina Lechowski and “Moby-Dick” and “Everest” librettist Gene Scheer and Holly Reed with Greg Haynes Johnson looked perfect, the tent proved to be not so perfect.
One AARP-vintage gal queried a passerby, “What should I do about my chair?” The lady’s chair was directly under a leak in the tent.
On the back wall of the tent was a mammoth scoreboard and the sound of college fight songs could be heard. Philanthropist Mary McDermott Cook in a black-and-white jacket threw her arms sky-high and announced, “I’m refereeing!”
Jennifer Cerny’s one-shoulder emerald green gown put the tent’s green flooring to shame…Jolie Humphrey’s “vintage” gown matched the tables’ gold glittery tablecloths, red-and-white chairs and red-and-white chairs.
Someone asked, “Have you seen Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” Immediately the photographers demanded, “Are you serious?” Yup! Next question: “Where is she?” Answer: A hand pointed to an elevated area of the tent where guests were gathering around tables. Final question: “What’s she wearing?” The answer: A white outfit with black piping.
Off the photographers went in search of the Supreme Court justice. A sudden burst of flashes indicated that the photographer had found the jurist. Only the 5’1” tall Supreme was wearing a man’s tuxedo jacket that hung down past her knees, and she looked rather unhappy.
To her side a coatless Mitch Hart said, “She needs a blanket.” Yup, she looked pretty unhappy, but wasn’t covering her up with a blanket rather extreme? No. Mitch explained that the 82-year-old was cold and needed a blanket, a stole, anything to keep her from chilling too much.
In the meantime, looking like Nancy Walker’s sister, Justice Ginsburg found herself being photographed with all types of local VIPs. So, why was Ruth at the event? She’s a big opera lover. In the past she had said, “In my dreams, I can be a great diva.” She’s also a big fan of Jake Heggie, who composed “Great Scott.”
And speaking of Jake, while his Supreme groupie was chilling in the tent, he was seen heading past the models in the designer outfits into the Hamon Hall for a private party with a passel of his buds. One woman seeing the passing Heggie parade commented, “It’s probably warmer in there!”
But the weather challenges of the night didn’t end with dinner. After the performance, the after-party got underway back in the tent. With the dinner’s tables and chairs removed, it should have been the perfect place for dancing, partying and celebrating the debut of “Great Scott.” And it was, except the green flooring evidently still had a couple of wet spots creating a bit of a slippery situation.