Lyric Opera's Midwinter Benefit Draws Inspiration from Russia's Hermitage Museum

By Jenny Berg February 2, 2012, 3:38 PM EST

Photo: Josh Sears/Event Creative

Lyric Opera of Chicago's "Fantasy of the Opera" Ball
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Dubbed “a Night Under the Czars,” the Lyric Opera of Chicago's Fantasy of the Opera gala on Friday night channeled a faraway land. “We wanted a fun and unique theme and were inspired by a Russian opera, Boris Godunov, that played at the Lyric earlier this season,” co-chairwomen Courtney Rosen and Nancy Temple said in an email statement. The event, which centered on a cabaret-style performance from Lyric singers, drew 600 guests and raised more than $470,000 for the company.

Two new vendors—catering company Limelight and design firm Event Creative—helped infuse the evening with Eastern European tropes. “We were inspired by some of the pieces at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, such as the peacock clock and Faberge eggs, which Event Creative has incorporated throughout the opera house,” Rosen and Temple added.

On the main floor, designer Jeffrey Foster draped tables in white linens scattered with diamonds, and placed furry white chair caps on the seats. On the American Airlines mezzanine, prop white peacocks perched atop golden branches dripping with strands of crystals. And atop dinner tables, glowing amber centerpieces recalled illuminated Faberge eggs.

“Limelight wowed us at the tasting with a fabulous Russian dessert, pavlova,” the co-chairwomen said of their vendor selection. The three-course dinner also included a roasted sweet local onion, mustard, and fennel tart, black bread with olive tapenade, and herb-roasted beef tenderloin filet with horseradish-Chantilly foam. Russian influence appeared in the cocktail hour as well, when servers circulated with vodka-based Moscow Mules.

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