The 66th Viennese Opera Ball

Yvonna Russell
6 min readMay 18, 2022

Daniel Serafin, Carolina López Moreno, Silvia Frieser

Aristocrats, debutantes, opera performers, ladies of society, gentleman of distinction, formal dress West Point Cadets and a few bohemians graced the white tie charity event of the season, The 66th Viennese Opera Ball in Manhattan. The Gilded Age ball was held at Cipriani 42nd Street on the evening of May 13th to benefit the music therapy program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center with support from Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research.

Jean Shafiroff, Peter Thomas Roth, Silvia Frieser

Once upon a time Austrian immigrants began the annual the white tie charity gala as a cultural tribute to both their former hometown Vienna and their host city, New York. The tradition continues at the 66th Viennese Opera Ball held under the gracious patronage of H.E. Alexander Van der Bellen, President of the Republic of Austria. A special thank you goes to Ernst Woller, President of the Vienna Provincial Parliament, and the continuous support of the City of Vienna.

Daniel Serafin, Leo Hillinger, Silvia Frieser, Ernst Woller, Wolfgang Koechert

Jean Shafiroff

President of the Viennese Opera Ball Silvia Frieser, event chair and philanthropist Jean Shafiroff, Artistic Director of the Viennese Opera Ball Daniel Serafin, President of the Vienna Provincial Parliament Ernst Woller, Peter Thomas Roth, Martin Shafiroff, Winemaker Leo Hillinger, owner of A.E. Köchert Jewelers Wolfgang Koechert, Iurii Samoilov, Carolina López Moreno, Emily Mohr, Cole Rumbough, Patricia Shiah, Mrs. Brookfield, Ana Stone, Scott Stone, Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, Maria Fishel, Kenneth Fishel, Maribel Lieberman, Nicole Salmasi, Alice Lutz, Annabel Oreste, Jonathan Marder, Leon Spinks, and Lilah Ramzi swirled about the delightful night affair. The luminous gala chair, Denise Rich was not in attendance recuperating from an injury. The dynamic founder of Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation was very much missed and thoughts for her speedy recovery.

Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin

Rebecca Morris, Summer Foley and Yasmina Khal-Laayoun

Dr. Luiza Petre and Timofey Shalnev

Resplendent in formal gowns, jewels, black tail tuxedos and white evening gloves the invited guests descended into the opulent theme gala, A Time for Love. Happy to be back after the year apart from quarantine, guests mingled over cocktails and hor d’ouerves in the salon. Nearby by the silent auction tables presented a Ippolita necklace, Jacques Lemans Swiss watch, Oribe Hair care package, Dinner for 4 at Restaurant Schilling, private catering for 40 by Michelin Star chef Edi Fraunder, Rolf Zuckowski music box, and a Marlies Wagner painting. Standing with Ukraine, the Viennese Opera Ball brooch by Austrian jeweler CIRO was also available to purchase with 1000% of proceeds to be donated to Caritas Ukraine.

Emily Mohr, Cole Rumbough

Lidiya Maltseva

Maribel Lieberman, Nicole Salmasi, Alice Lutz

Top opera stars Carolina López Moreno, Iurii Samoilov, Johanna Will, Matthew White, and Donata D’Annunzio Lombardi performed selections from Tosca, Franz Lehar, Verdi and Puccini at the ball. The Viennese Opera Ball Orchestra was conducted Maestro Vinicius Kattah. The handsome opera tenor Iurii Samoilov from Ukraine sang his national anthem.

Iurii Samoilov

The Christie’s auctioneer took to the ballroom floor for live bidding on Austria’s oldest jewelry designer, A.E. Köchert designed Sisi Star brooch of 27 diamonds in 18K white gold, an opera experience package of a two night stay at the Park Hyatt Vienna with a VIP meet with Daniel Serafin at the Opera Festival in the Quarry in Austria, The New York Giants Experience, a trip to Vienna, Helmut Koller painting, Duerer Hare and three nights at the Palais Hansen Kempinski. The auction items to benefit the music therapy program encourages healing and promote a sense of well-being for cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering are also featured on

Lucia Hwong Gordon

Trisha Willis and John Willis

Claudia Mazzi and Eduardo Mazzi

Towers of long stem red roses adorned the candlelit tables for a delicious 4 course dinner of starter colorful endive, avocado salad with shaved parmesan followed by a creamy risotto with green peas and the main course sliced aged sirloin with bundle of asparagus tied with leeks and potatoes Dauphinoise. A tempting choice of desserts, apple millefoglie with vanilla ice cream or vanilla creme meringue were offered. The dinner was complimented by Austrian wines from Weingut Leo Hillinger, Schlumberger, and Weingut Esterhazy.


Aller Walzer! The presentation of beautiful young debutantes all in white gowns and tiaras carrying a bouquet of red roses glided expertly about in the arms of their groomed escorts.


A Midnight Quadrille had the ballroom swirling as couples danced with the full orchestra in swing as was done in a bygone classic era.

Jean Paul Laurent and Annabel Oreste

Night turned to day and now the DJ Oliver Meiji played on with all the best dance hits for the late party. Tanzbar was set up in the Viennese Salon. The Austrian late-night buffet was a feast of hot roasted sausages, sauerkraut and thick salty pretzels with an array of mustards and beers set up for the hungry dancers and late revelers.

Maria Fishel, Kenneth Fishel

The white gift bag tied with black grosgrain ribbon boasted MarieBelle Chocolates, Peter Thomas Roth moisturizer face cream, a complimentary private lesson to the downtown Fred Astaire Studio, Macarena Luz Bianchi’s book of love poetry, Erno Lazlo face masks, and a bottle of Weingut Leo Hillinger Secco Rose.

Kevin Richards and Janna Bullock

In the wee hours of the morning, guests left with their gift bags and three dozen long red stem roses from Royal Flowers. A magical evening in Manhattan of music, opera and waltz.

All photos pmc Patrick McMullan



Yvonna Russell

Writer. I cover the arts, good causes and style. Will work for coffee, wine and Manolo Blahniks.