A French fête at the Fantasy of the Opera Ball

Fantasy of the Opera 2013
Aleksandra Efimova, dressed as a dancer from an Edgar Degas painting, for the Fantasy of the Opera 2013.

Attending the Lyric Opera’s Fantasy of the Opera Ball is always one of my favorite events of the year ― and this year was no exception!

This year, I was proud to be on the planning committee for the gala, and I was so impressed with how the entire event came together and thrilled that we were able to raise more than $450,000 to support the Lyric Opera.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, more than 700 people gathered at the Civic Opera House, which was transformed into 1920s Paris. Guests entered through the main hall, which was adorned with a French-style market, a recreation of the Moulin Rouge, and the Eiffel Tower, and then headed upstairs where several local restaurants, including AVEC, Magnolia Bakery, Coco Pazzo, Embeya, N9NE, The Palm, Lloyds, and Pazzo’s provided delicious hors d’oeuvres.

What made this year especially fun was the fact that guests were invited to dress up to match the theme, so everywhere you looked you saw men with handlebar mustaches and French berrets, women with feather headdresses and fancy hats, and even cancan skirts. Naturally, for my costume, I dressed up as a ballet dancer inspired by one of Edgar Degas’ famous paintings!

Another highlight of the evening was the cabaret that featured live performances by Lyric Opera singers Elizabeth Futral, David Cangekosi, Amanda Majeski, Lucas Meachem, Albina Shagimuratova, Ana Maria Martinez, Jamie Barton and Andrea Silvestrelli.

During the cabaret, attendees bid on silent auction items. As the chairman of the silent auction committee, I was so pleased at how many people bid on the items, helping us to reach our fundraising goals. Everyone seemed excited to bid on exciting items such roundtrip airline tickets to London and Shanghai, a round of golf for 20 people, Chanel purses and a handwoven Oscar Isberian rug. My donation to the silent auction was a Ballerina Experience with Aleksandra, an afternoon party where 10 children will have a chance to meet professional dancers at the Russian Pointe Dance Boutique.

Following the cabaret, some guests enjoyed a delicious sit-down dinner, while others sipped on Veuve Clicquot champagne and Grand Marnier cocktails in the main hall, and then everyone got on the dance floor and danced the night away!

Last year, I served as the chairman of the Young Professionals Board for the Lyric Opera, and this year, I was happy to see such a broad range of ages of the people attending the ball. I hope it signifies that the Lyric Opera will be a vibrant institution in Chicago for years to come.