Betty Knight Scripps, Chairman of the Opera Ball (photo from 2006 Opera Ball)
Having cleaned up nicely, formal attire and all, Dr. and Mrs. Ionarts started the evening as guests in the residence of the Ambassador of Argentina, José Octavio Bordón, and his charming wife, Mónica. Over hors d'oeuvres and a delicious Argentine cocktail called Gancia con limón, a type of vermouth stirred with a citrus mixer and served with a lemon slice, six couples met one another and chatted. When we were seated together at the elegant table for dinner, the Ambassador explained that in Argentina, a dinner like this one would normally not begin before 9 or 9:30 (instead of 7:30) with only one exception, if it were a night for opera. His Excellency spoke eloquently of the place of opera in the cultural life of Buenos Aires, mentioning with pride that the famous Teatro Colón would reopen on May 25, 2008, Argentina's Independence Day and the 100th anniversary of the theater's original opening. As on that first opening night, in 1908, the opera will be Verdi's Aida.
Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts, Reliable Source (Washington Post, June 3)
Ann Geracimos and Kevin Chaffee, Opera Ball scores with amity, largess (Washington Times, June 4)
After having our picture taken with the Ambassador of Peru, we were free to discover a wonderland of delights in the historic mansion, now filled with a stunning collection of Peruvian art from many periods of history. Tables beckoned with endless desserts of every kind, and the champagne and other drinks flowed freely. Under a canopy behind the residence, with large photographs meant to make it look like downtown Lima, a swing band played to a dance floor that was filled all night. In a separate room, guests were invited to listen to zarzuela and opera arias and duets performed by a group of young singers and a pianist. All of this conspicuous consumption would have been merely grotesque excess, except that the Opera Ball raised $3 million for the Washington National Opera. That is money well spent for music lovers.