It may have been a cold, dreary April night outside, but the atmosphere inside Doltone House was warm and cosy; with the expansive space filled with nearly 500 guests. Opera-lovers and well-known Sydney personalities mingled, raising enough money to send one lucky singer on a life- and career-changing journey to Italy.
A diverse group of guests including His Excellency Pier Francesco Zazo, the Italian Ambassador; Sergio Martes, the Consulate General for Italy; to past Italian Opera Foundation winners Natalie Aroyan and Michael Vaiasinni; NSW Members of Parliament; Australian General Manager for Etihad Luisa Pastrello; and many other business and community leaders. John Mangos did a fabulous job as our compere, ensuring that everyone enjoyed their evening and the conversation flowed, as well as the exceptional wines donated by Adelaide wineries Totino Estate and Serafino Wines!
Our young performers did a spectacular job entertaining our guests, performing some of the greatest hits from well-loved musicals; under the stellar musical direction of Anne Maree MacDonald and the artistic direction of industry veteran John Wregg. The Sound of Music medley had everyone singing along in their seats, with a few bold guests dancing up the back. One of the most pleasant surprises of the evening, not listed in the program, was a rousing rendition of the Brindisi, Libiamo, from La Traviata performed by Natalie Aroyan and Michael Vaiasinni. It was so popular that an encore was demanded, along with a few more bottles of wine for each table!
The auction was a highlight of the evening with the top prize of two return Pearl Business Class Tickets to anywhere in the world, very generously supplied by Etihad Airways. Our other prizes were a sports package provided by Channel Nine, including tickets to all of the major sporting events this year; a stunning handbag donated by Bvlgari; and a Sydney FC Match Day Experience that also included a jersey signed by Captain Alessandro Del Piero. Lots of lucky people went home with our gorgeous raffle prizes, including a stunning five strand pearl necklace from Cerrone, baubles from Jewels that Rock and Tickets to the Opera to mention a few. Certificates of appreciation were presented to our Major Sponsor, Etihad Airways; and our Principal Sponsors, Andrew Valerio & Sons Funeral Directors, and Bleasdale National Contractors.
We would like to thank all of our generous sponsors who made our spectacular Gala Evening possible, and who support the work of the Italian Opera Foundation.