The Viennese Opera held its 66th ball on Friday, May 13th, at Cipriani 42nd Street. Considered the most prestigious and oldest Viennese ball outside of Vienna, the white-tie gala was replete with men and women of all ages eager to dance the night away.
After a more than two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the crowd celebrated the collaborative relationship between Vienna and the United States. The evening theme was “A Night of Love,” with Royal Flowers donating 20,000 red roses to celebrate.
Gala chairs Jean Shafiroff and Denise Rich ensured it would be both elegant and well attended as the reasonably priced $1,100 tickets sold out briskly. Few New York charities offer a four-course meal, spectacular entertainment, and a breathtaking venue with music until 4 AM for under $2,000.
Furthermore, proceeds from the event went towards the musical therapy program at Memorial Sloan Kettering, with a table set up to raise money for Ukrainian refugees. Unfortunately, Denise Rich, a forerunner in the fight against cancer, could not attend due to a broken leg. However, revelry abounded as guests dressed in their best threads headed to the red carpet for the boisterous cocktail party with photographers feverishly snapping away.
One of the most popular designers of the evening was Malan Breton, who dressed a trio of svelte ladies, including Jean Shafiroff, Silvia Frieser, and Consuelo Vanderbilt. Shafiroff looked like a princess in her light blue ribboned gown as she walked on stage with her husband, Martin.
Some other fashion stars in attendance were María and Ken Fishel, Nicole Salmasi, Janna Bullock, Patricia and Roger Silverstein, Patricia Shah, Alisa Roever, and many others. West Point cadets introduced 14 white-gowned debutantes for an opening dance: a scene reminiscent of Titanic meets the Bridgertons.
If you enjoy pageantry, then this evening was made for you. As opera stars Johanna Will and Ukrainian Iurii Samoilov wowed the crowd with their poignantly expressive voices, it even had music: this is precisely what the crowd needed after a gut-wrenching pandemic.
Iurii Samoilov also sang a heartfelt Ukrainian folk song to his suffering compatriots. It was noted that Vienna is one of the greenest and most entertaining cities-hosting over 500 balls a year.
As midnight struck, the quadrille began: a popular dance of late 18th and 19th century Europe that consists of a chain of 4 to 6 couples. The giddy crowd joined arms in one of the most joyous scenes of the past year. Rumor has it that breakfast was served at 4 AM – a savory conclusion to a once-in-a-lifetime evening.