While the 2019 Cattle Baron’s Ball committee was taking care of last-minute preparations for the American Cancer Association fundraiser at Gilley’s, the black-tie set was strolling along the red carpet leading to the Winspear Opera House for its 10th anniversary. The dinner for The Dallas Opera‘s First Night event on Friday, October 10, was a sell-out, and as many as 2,000 were expected for the post-dinner performance of “The Magic Flute.”
But, not all of the VIP set was clad in satin, cufflinks and pearls. As a first for the opera-lovers, welcoming guests on the red carpet were flamingos Bahama and Bermuda and penguins Sid, Jazz and Donnie.
Diane and Hal Brierley immediately headed to a table where a penguin was holding court. Thanks to the animal-loving Brierleys’ sponsorship, a partnership had resulted between the Dallas Opera and Dallas Zoo. Not only were the high-stepping flamingos and formally attired penguins part of the reception, but the Dallas Zoo’s cheetah, Winspear, would be on stage as part of the “Flute” performance.
And, of course, the satin and black-tie crowd was mesmerized by all the web-footed types. Even Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume was caught gazing at the penguins. Why, Steve Stodghill even celebrated the relationship by comparing his penguin cufflinks with the real thing.
Just the night before, Steve and his wife Anne Stodghill had been part of President Donald Trump’s rally at American Airlines Center. During an exclusive meet-and-greet, Steve told The Donald, “Texas loves you, Mr. President.” In response, Trump playfully bopped Steve on the shoulder. Asked how that made him feel, Steve grinned, “It was only the highlight of my life!”
Yet another guest complained that Trump’s appearance at AAC had turned downtown Dallas and the surrounding highways into a giant parking lot. She declared that she had been stuck on Woodall Rodgers long enough to establish residency there.
Marnie and Kern Wildenthal were double-dining. Following a quick bite at the First Night supper, they were heading to the Frontiers of Flight Museum for a dinner for an Indian wedding celebration. Among other guests on the carpet were Agustin Arteaga and Carlos Gonzalez-Jaime, Lee Cullum, Laura and Tom Leppert, Rhonda Sargent-Chambers, Nancy and Robbie Briggs, Ellen and Don Winspear, Tincy Miller, Doris Jacobs, and Geoffroy van Raemdonck and Alvise Orsini.
As for those concerned with the fashion of the night, the camps were divided. Some wore North Texas’ Michael Faircloth (First Sight Luncheon Chair Ellen Winspear and Lisa Cooley highlighted by a Sue Gragg necklace), while others were in Badgley Mischka (Kim Hext), Talbot Runhof (Carol Glendenning) or the infamous “I can’t remember, but it was some European type” designer. Lee Bailey was in a blue and white Carolina Herrera number she last wore two years ago at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
As for the gents, First Sight/First Night Co-Chair Greg Hext’s tuxedo was from Dolce and Gabbana and his shoes were Gucci. Tracy Fulton and Joseph Mahoney were both in Armani. And Kern Wildenthal was wearing a wooden bow tie he bought for $5 at a street fair in Burgundy, France.