A Celebration Of Cultural Relationships

By Elizabeth Darwen

The Viennese Opera Ball recently hosted their Swing Dinner Dance Gala, “The Golden Age” at a private club in Manhattan. The Viennese Opera Ball is a nonprofit association and celebrated under the auspices of the U.S. Austrian Chamber of Commerce. Each year, it supports charitable projects that are connected to communities in New York or Vienna. The proceeds of the Swing Dinner Dance Gala will benefit the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research. Due to the events of the past year, the gala was scaled down from previous years with limited capacity.

The black-tie event was a change up to their traditional Opera Ball with the swing dance party theme. The music for the evening was provided by the Misha Piatigorsky Trio.

The Gala Chairs for the evening were Denise Rich, and Jean Shafiroff. The evening started with a reception, followed by a formal dinner, then music and dancing lasted till midnight. There was also a silent auction during the gala which raised funds for Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research.

The Viennese Opera Ball looks to hold its main gala in all its grandeur with special surprise performances this coming Spring of 2022. Additionally, an annual white-tie charity gala celebrates the cultural and economic relationships between Austria and America, connecting two continents, two cities, and two centuries in one glamorous night. It was founded by Austrians immigrating to the United States 66 years ago and is a tribute to both their former hometown Vienna and their host city, New York.

The gala attracts an international audience that includes diplomats and dignitaries, international corporations, and professionals and is considered the most prestigious and oldest Viennese ball outside of Vienna. Metropolitan opera singers, the Viennese Opera Ball orchestra, ballet performances, the West Point color guard, a Midnight Quadrille, and many other surprises make for a glamorous and delightful evening. The Midnight Quadrille begins as the clock strikes midnight, and all attendees join in on the famous dance.

Debutantes and their male partners (known as Escorts) rehearse for one week prior to the ball, and they are generally chosen each year based on recommendations from Committee members. The choreographed Waltzers rehearse for three months prior to the ball and are chosen from dance auditions held each year by the Choreographer. Opera singers come from the Metropolitan Opera, and ballet dancers are flown over from Vienna. “Every year we have fantastic opera singers that perform at the Ball. Some highlights were Rene Pape, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Nadine Sierra, Lucas Meacham, and more. Most of them perform in leading roles at the MET,” said VOB President Silvia Frieser.

The event has hosted 400 guests from Europe and America in recent years. The Board of Directors, led by Silvia Frieser and Artistic Director Daniel Serafin, organizes the Ball. Every year, the Viennese Opera Ball raises funds for charitable causes in New York and Vienna. “In the last few years, we have brought the Viennese Opera Ball to another level, with the help of major support of the international opera singers and of course, of our generous guests, donors and sponsors. In the next 5 years, I would like to invite even more international guests, as well as Austrian but also American companies to join our gala. The Ball is a platform for cultural and economic exchange, and an event for American philanthropists and New York’s high-society where you are part of a totally unique and spectacular night while supporting a worthy cause,” said Frieser. “There is really nothing else like it here. The music, the dancing—these are always at the center, just the way we traditionally do in Vienna.”

For more information on the Viennese Opera Ball, visit: