Hon. Willie Brown
Each year the Opera Gala, An Evening on the Stage, gets better and better. This San Francisco holiday tradition (helmed by the elegant Mary Poland, Romana Bracco, and Farah Makras, along with events producer extraordinaire J. Riccardo Benavides) embodies next-level creativity.
The evening included a grand cocktail reception in the lobby of the opera house followed by a fabulous dinner on stage (delectable short ribs) by McCalls Catering and Events. The stage décor was the fairytale world of Hansel and Gretel—complete with foreboding forest backdrop, the parents’ cabin, the witch’s gingerbread house (she meets her end in a pot of chocolate), lush forest greens and branches, woven ribbons, and flowers.
The sold-out benefit for 300 enthusiastic guests honored longtime SF Opera supporters Carol and Dixon Doll. This incredibly generous couple’s largesse reaches far beyond the opera community. They have been instrumental in supporting San Francisco’s ballet, symphony, museums, and parks. Carol is also the founding member of University of San Francisco (USF)’s Women in Leadership and Philanthropy, while Dixon, a venture capitalist, serves on the board of the Papal Foundation, the Asian Art Museum, and USF.
So, what was all the whispering about at the head table? The always persuasive Farrah Makras had convinced “Da Mayor,” Willie Brown, to auction two items: an Opening Night Extravaganza and Broadway’s Biggest Night. Then… Mayor London Breed (in elegant green sparkle) came on stage to whisper in Brown’s ear another auction item: lunch with both Brown and Breed. After lively bidding all the way up to $50,000, Dede Wilsey won. Wouldn’t you love to attend that lunch? The three auction items raised another $200,000 to help the Opera’s award-winning education programs. The Guild’s education programs reach arts lovers of all ages to share the beauty of music through Opera Previews, workshops, and school outreach for children as young as kindergarten.