A night at the opera

Photos by Drew Altizer

San Francisco sure knows how to make an entrance. When the city’s philanthropists, politicos and society swans arrived at War Memorial Opera House to celebrate the San Francisco Opera’s opening night, they wowed in glamorous gowns and dapper tuxedos — imagine the Met Gala but with no one on the Worst-Dressed List.The soiree paid tribute to the lavish double bill of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci being staged this season.

Design guru Riccardo Benavides dreamed up an Argentine wonderland, setting gorgeous floral bouquets of pink and peach atop dinner tables. He adorned Old World water fountains with even more flowers, recreating a romantic evening in Buenos Aires.

In keeping with the night’s theme, “Viva la Noche!,” Opera Ball co-chairs Shannon Cronan and Kathy Huber dazzled in yellow and pink confections with festive ruffles and tulle. Opera Guild President Jane Mudge wore a show-stopping white Monique Lluillier gown with dramatic feathered sleeves fit for a queen — or Eva Perón. Fashion risk-taker Sonya Molodetskaya stood out in a fabulous red Zac Posen opera coat and black pants, while Mary Beth Shimmon accessorized her crimson Brandon Maxwell dress with an extraordinary flower crown.

The delightful Chrisa Pappas shimmered in a gilded Alexander McQueen stunner, making the rounds during cocktail hour alongside her favorite accessory: Husband Dean Sioukas. Beforehand, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi — sitting in a middle row — stood up and waved at fellow opera-goers. Then the crowd rose to its feet and sang the National Anthem, which reminded us of Captain Von Trapp’s bittersweet rendition of “Edelweiss” in the The Sound of Music. You know, in these times.

Also on the scene: Navid Armstrong (in vintage Bill Blass); Carolyn Chang (in Andrew Gn); plus Charlotte and George Shultz; Farah and Victor Makras; Chris Meza and Chip Zecher; Mayor London Breed; former Mayor Willie Brown; Sharon Seto and Clara Shayevich.

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