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Draped Fabric Forms Kingly Tent for Opera Gala

For the New York City Opera's spring gala, celebrating the opening night of Mark Morris's take on King Arthur, long sashes of fabric formed a tent over the promenade of the New York State Theater.

By Anna Sekula March 11, 2008, 10:26 AM EDT

Evoking Isaac Mizrahi's colorful costumes, long, pastel-colored strips of fabric covered the dinner area, shaped to look like a tent by wires and a circular frame.

Photo: Joe Fornabaio for BizBash

Taking its cue from the spring production of Henry Purcell's King Arthur—a performance presented by the Mark Morris Dance Group, with costumes by Isaac Mizrahi—the New York City Opera used long strips of fabric to create a tentlike covering for its spring gala inside the New York State Theater on Wednesday night. The Opera's director of special events, Sarah Denton, oversaw the event, which was designed by David Stark and set up in the two-hour window between the start of the performance and the beginning of dinner.

For Denton and Stark, the challenge was not only to devise a decor scheme that wouldn't take too long to construct, but also to create a look that was as modern and progressive as the production but still spoke to the medieval motif. (Director and choreographer Mark Morris chose to discard Arthur's spoken text, and the costumes are a mix of modern and historic.) So while long banquet tables replaced the oft-used rounds, the menu did not include cliché items like chicken drumsticks and steins of ale. Using a minimum of bells and whistles, Stark focused on bright, spring colors and added subtle touches like daffodils potted in pewter mugs to evoke a medieval feast.

Honoring Edmée de M. Firth, the founder of the opera's General Director's Council, the event drew 600 guests and raised more than $1 million.

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