The 58th annual Viennese opera ball at Waldorf Astoria
I have never been to an opera. I’ve always had an interest in going, and when I had the opportunity to go to the 58th Viennese Opera Ball, I found the opportunity too amazing to pass up. What is the Viennese Opera Ball you may ask? Well, it’s an annual event that has been going on since 1955 and yesterday evening it was held at the prestigious Waldorf Astoria. This romantic and glamorous night has been happening every year, sharing Austrian culture with excited New Yorkers in the benefit of different cultural organizations. This year, it was on behalf of Carnegie Hall.
Saying that the outfits in the room were both lavish and elegant would not do them justice. Monica, a first-time ball goer like me mentioned that she was very much looking forward to the evening – coming all the way from Germany herself to celebrate the evening. Her feelings about the night and the upcoming events were exciting, and her dress was quite exciting as well –a long strapless gown (of course) of Kelly green and a blue hue with a bronze leaf-like print overlapping the bright colors. Each gown was individually superb. Two of the party goers even mentioned that their favorite part of the night was being able to admire all of the different gowns for the evening.
After cocktail hour, everyone made their way down to the main floor to witness the traditional walking of the horse through the corridor. When I was told this would be happening, I thought someone was trying to take advantage of my gullibility, but low and behold at 9pm there was a beautiful stallion being escorted through the main hallway of the ballroom entrance to really begin the night’s events.
Going into the ballroom was like entering another world. A world where nothing is short of glamor and elegance with a blue and purple hue lighting up the room, and each table set with an elaborate bouquet of white roses and crystal tear drops. The food was impeccable, and each course was elaborate and perfectly cooked.
Shortly after everyone was finally settled, there was the presentation of the debutants. Each of the young ladies wore a different white ball gown was escorted by a young gentlemen suited in a tux and white gloves that could have made any girl swoon. Amongst the debutants was our very own Miss Teen USA, who I actually had the opportunity to speak with.
Miss Teen USA, title aside, is an intelligent and poised young lady by the name of Logan, and freshman at Pace University (where I attend myself!). She told us how she and the other debutants and escorts only had four days to prepare for the elaborate Waltz for the promenade of debutants dance. Perfectly synchronized and delightful, I reassured her that no one noticed them counting steps.
During dinner there was an operatic interlude titled Die Feursbrunst, which told the tale of a young man on the verge of losing his house until he made the choice to go to his dead grandmother’s house, find her old jewels and ultimately save his house from being taken away in the end. The presentation was both comical and beautiful, the singing mesmerizing – I actually found myself laughing aloud when a ghost puppet appeared on the second floor balcony and the three actors were frozen on the ballroom floor re-enacting the “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” pose.
The Waltz finale closed the stunning event with an intricate line dance with numerous steps intended to be synchronized by the several hundred guests on the ballroom dance floor. Having the lovely opportunity to join in on the dance, I was pleased to discover that I was not alone in not knowing how to dance this detailed waltz. As a matter of fact, I had a partner who was from Austria and was one of the only people on the dance floor who knew the steps of the dance by heart.
Everyone had a great time nonetheless at this traditional ball that has been celebrated for almost 60 years – and now we know why.
Photos: Ken Arcara
For further information on the Viennese opera ball visit here.