Elisabeth Muhr, Denise Rich, and Jean Shafiroff chaired the 65th Viennese Opera Ball on Friday, February 7, 2020 at Cipriani 42nd Street, New York City, under the patronage of The President of the Republic of Austria, H.E. Alexander Van der Bellen. Actor Nathan Lee Graham emceed the Ball, celebrating the cultural and economic relationships between Austria and America, connecting two continents, two cities and two centuries in one glamorous evening.
“There is nothing like this in America with pageantry that could only come from the Habsburg Royal Houses” said President and Executive Director Silvia Frieser, “Just as in Europe, the celebration began with our Debutantes, wearing beautiful tiaras donated by Austrian jewelry company Ciro and white gowns, dancing the Polonaise and Alles Walzer with their partners in white tie.” Artistic Director Daniel Serafin presented an operatic concert with Ewa Płonka, Limmie Pulliam, Michael Spyres and Corinne Winters performing alongside a full orchestra conducted by Matthias Fletzberger. At Midnight, a Quadrille that enlivened the dance floor until 4am.
The Viennese Opera Ball proudly supports charitable projects of New York and Vienna. This year, appropriately benefiting the musical therapy program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center through Denise Rich’s Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research. While the Viennese Opera Ball is inspired by the famous Vienna Opera Ball in Austria, it is older and its own American 501 (c)(3) not for profit foundation, held under the auspices of the U.S. Austrian Chamber of Commerce.
The Honorary Gala Chair was The Honorable Michael Ludwig, Governor and Mayor of Vienna. Notable guests included Host Committee members Janna Bullock, Joanna Fisher, Ana Saucedo, Randi Schatz, and Marisa Rose Van Bokhorst, Honorary Guests Florence Hvorostovsky and Ann Ziff, Junior Chairs Emily Mohr and Colgate Rumbough, Junior Vice Chair Briana Lestage, as well as Star Jones, Ricardo Lugo, John Paulson, Karlheinz Muhr, Martin Shafiroff and Stifel Investment Services, Hikmet Ersek (CEO of Western Union), Actress Samantha Mathis, Lukas Barwinski-Brown (CEO, Lang Lang International Music Foundation), Trisha Willis, John Willis, Diandra Douglas, Sandra Stockmayer (Viennese dancing school Svabek), Agnieszka and Witold Balaban, and U.S. Military Academy West Point Cadets who marched in with flags representing America, Austria, and the European Union before singing the three respective anthems.
Sponsors included The City of Vienna, Royal Flowers, A.E. Koechert, Aida, as well as a selection of donated Austrian wines and spirits by Schlumberger, Sonor Wines, Esterhazy, Rick Gin and Manufaktur Mueller, and Hallstein Water. The debutantes wore beautiful donated tiaras by Austrian jewelry company Ciro, and were exclusively styled, together with the opera singers, by The Salon at BG.