Flowers on the Stage for Carol and Dixon Doll

By Drew Altizer Photography

Mary Poland, Carol Doll and Dixon Doll

Carol and Dixon Doll’s praises were sung soprano-high at An Evening on the Stage, the San Francisco Opera Guild’s glitzy seventh annual soiree, which celebrated the opera’s most passionate supporters.

Upon accepting the 2019 Crescendo Award, the couple, who have been together for 55 years, made a poignant comparison.

“Opera is very much like a marriage,” said Carol, “full of drama and emotion; unpredictable, deliciously funny and grandly sophisticated.”

Co-chaired by Farah Makras and Romana Bracco, the unmissable fête — which was held on stage at the War Memorial Opera House — saw hundreds of guests, including the likes of Mayor Willie Brown, Sonya Molodetskaya, Paul Pelosi, Maryam Muduroglu, Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis, Sobia Shaikh, Mary Beth and David Shimmon, Lisa Zabelle, Jack Calhoun and Trent Norris, Dede Wilsey, Dennis Franklin and Melinda Yee Franklin, all of whom were — you better believe! — dressed to the nines.

The power couple was introduced by Opera Guild President Mary Poland, who lauded them as “generous and giving in every way possible.”

“Carol and Dixon, you epitomize all the qualities that we strive to emulate in order to help others,” said Poland, who was resplendent in royal blue.

The Dolls’ generous involvement with the San Francisco Opera traces back three decades.

Carol, who is president of the Carol and Dixon Doll Family Foundation, has served with panache on the guild’s board since 1994 and on the San Francisco Opera Association board of directors since 1997. Meanwhile, Dixon, a well-respected Silicon Valley venture capitalist, sits on the San Francisco Opera Association’s board of directors and taps his financial smarts while serving on its Investment Committee.

Carol floated through the celebration in an ethereal seafoam gown that was a perfect match for the evening’s theme: Hansel and Gretel, inspired by the company’s final mainstage production of the year, and imagined to otherworldly perfection by (who else?!) Riccardo Benavides. Think dreamy, forest-inspired tablescapes and romantic lighting.

“Dixon and I are honored to receive this special award,” Carol said onstage. “I first became intrigued by opera in grade school, when I went to my grandparents’ home for dinner every Sunday. Nonna [and] nonno listened to opera religiously in those days, and it proved to be a wonderful, stimulating, learning experience.”

Dixon, who has been a music lover since childhood, was introduced to the opera by his loving wife upon their move to SanFrancisco in the 1980s.

“None of my wonderful opera experiences would have ever happened without Carol,” he said, prompting audible swoons from the audience. “I realized the day that I met her she was a dynamo, generous, caring and, most of all, a very special person. Here we are, after almost 55 years together, sharing our wonderful lives with the distinctive San Francisco Opera and all of you wonderful supporters.”

We’re not crying! You’re crying!

Now, the Dolls are proactively working to make sure opera doesn’t become a lost art with the next generation. (Hey, kids, queue up La Bohème alongside your trap and robot music.)

Last year, they took their grandchildren to see Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life during Christmastime. At the celebration, San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock pointed out what a rarity it is to have a husband-and-wife duo serving on the board together. But with Carol and Dixon — whose wisdom and passion complement each other — there’s no other way.

Pam and Dick Kramlich
Keith and Priscilla Geeslin with Paul Pelosi
Trent Norris, Eleni and Markos Kounalakis with Victor Makras
Lucie Weissman and David Birka-White
Matthew and Kate Shilvock with Carol and Dixon Doll
William and Susan Oberndorf
David Shimmon, Willie Brown and Victor Makras

Dressed to Impress

Maria Mannetti Shrem and Co-Chair Romana Bracco: Lights! Camera! Dazzling. Philanthropist Manetti poses with Bracco, an SF Opera Guildboard member.
Mayor London Breed: From City Hall to a society gala, the mayor knows that a thriving arts scene gives a city its soul — not its IPO-riche! Thank you for listening to our Ted Talk.
Lisa Zabelle and Farah Makras: Zabelle is dressed like a social butterfly — literally— while co-chair Makras sports an equally charming frock with statement-making sleeves. Birds of a feather!
Kate Shilvock: The wife of San Francisco Opera’s general director shines in holiday gold at the elegante evening honoring Carol and Dixon Doll.
Bill and Mary Poland: The fun-loving philanthropist power pair wear their gala best. Kudos to Mary on her successful first year as San Francisco Guild president!























Allison Speer: The local tastemaker, a collector of vibrant maximalist gowns, sports one such show-stopper for the occasion. Can we raid your closet, Alli!?

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