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Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Gala 2008 – Rock the Casbah

By Barbara Keer

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Entering the lobby


Entering the Civic Opera House lobby for the matinee performance of Falstaff on February 3rd, it would be easy to believe that Fantasy of the Opera 2008, “Rock the Casbah” never happened. Except for the record-breaking $569,460 net and the sold out crowd of 640, the amazing, "Rock the Casbah" might have been a dream of a fanciful place with delicious food and beautiful people.

Thanks to James Staples, Christina Rashid, Britt Miller, Rachael Pontikes, Patrick Bitterman


In fact, the Guild Board of Directors’ 24th annual Fantasy fundraiser,  “Rock the Casbah,” rocked the Civic Opera House, Feb. 2, 2008, creating the feeling of a different time and place.  The lobby was totally transformed by the luxuriant silk canopies, table linens, curtains, and giant cylindrical lampshades along with palm fronds, elaborate lighting, and ornately painted signage that created the scene for “Rock The Casbah.”

Gourmet appetizer station


The evening began with delicious appetizers prepared by some of Chicago’s top chefs. Wandering around one could go from one restaurant station to the next throughout the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Grand Foyer and American Airlines Mezzanine,  drinking “casbah cocktails”, nibbling goodies,  and chatting.  It was interesting to view items and place silent-auction bids as we did.  This area was situated beneath orange-silk-canopies in the Nancy W. Knowles Lobby. Raffle-tickets were offered everywhere and buyers were enthusiastic.  Many guests also enjoyed wearing the fezzes that decorated tables throughout the opera house, and posing for photos with belly dancers and actors dressed as French Legionnaires.

French Legionnaires circulate



Bidding at the Silent Auction


The Fantasy Cabaret showcased the diverse musical talents of Lyric artists Joyce DiDonato (Rosina/Barber of Seville), Nathan Gunn (Figaro/Barber of Seville), Andrew Shore (title role/Falstaff and Dr. Bartolo/Barber of Seville) and David Cangelosi (Dr. Caius/Falstaff), as well as Ryan Opera Center members Daniel Billings, Andrea Chuchman, Marjorie Owens, and Amber Wagner. Selections by Gershwin, Gilbert & Sullivan, Kern & Hammerstein, Rossini, Ives, and others were performed. Lyric’s music director Sir Andrew Davis was master of ceremonies, and pianist Craig Terry accompanied the singers. The audience delighted in the encore when the assembled singers, led by Lyric’s general director William Mason (jauntily wearing a fez) surprised Maestro Davis with a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday to You!” Sir Andrew’s 64th birthday was Feb. 2, the same day as the Fantasy gala. Surprisingly, he conducted an evening performance of Falstaff on Feb. 1 and a matinee of the same opera on Feb. 3.

Dinner awaits


Following a Moroccan-themed buffet supper, guests packed the dance floor in the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Grand Foyer until well after midnight.  It was so much fun, attendees can’t wait for next years offering.

Joyce DiDonato and Leonardo Vordoni dancing, Andriana Chuchman at Cabaret


Making this years event happen were:

Fantasy Chairman James A. Staples (Chicago)
Fantasy Co-Chairman Christina M. Rashid (Chicago)
Fantasy Raffle Chairman Britt M. Miller (Chicago)
Fantasy Silent Auction Chairman Rachael G. Pontikes (Chicago)
Guild Board President Patrick J. Bitterman (Chicago)

Lynne Jordan and The Shivers


Golden Grand Benefactors
Baker & McKenzie; Deloitte.; Ernst & Young LLP; Goldman Sachs; Harris, N.A.; Higgins Development Partners; Huron Consulting; Jenner & Block LLP; Mr. and Mrs. John W. Jordan II; Jordan Industries; Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; Richard P. and Susan Kiphart; KPMG LLP; Mayer Brown LLP; National City Bank; and Spencer Stuart & Associates

Silver Grand Benefactors
An Anonymous Donor, Bain & Company, JoAnn Cantalupo;Deutsche Bank; Laura Herman; Allan and Elaine Muchin; Nordstrom; Peer Pedersen; Reed Smith Sachnoff & Weaver; and James A. Staples

Captivating


Other benefactors include: BBJ Linen and Quarles & Brady LLP, Fantasy Raffle Sponsor American Airlines, the Official Airline of Lyric Opera,; Caterer-Blue Plate ; Reception Restaurants - 312 Chicago, Carnivale, Coco Pazzo, Devon Seafood Grill, La Strada Ristorante, Lloyd’s Chicago, Nine Steakhouse, One North Kitchen & Bar, Rivers Restaurant, Rosebud Restaurants, Roy’s, Shikago, Townhouse

Beverage & Chocolate Sponsors Champagne Joseph Perrier, Flickinger Wines, The House of Glunz, Ethel’s Chocolate; Music-Lynne Jordan & The Shivers

Photos: Dan Rest/Robert Kusel and Leon Keer


Published on Dec 31, 1969

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